Name: Priyanka Chilakamarri
Graduation Year: 2011
Major(s): Biology, HSSP
Minor(s): Theater Arts
What activities did you do during your sophomore year?
- Volunteer Coordinator/Vice President of Pre-Medicine of the Pre-Health Society
- Community Advisor for Community Living
- Research Assistant at the Rosbash Laboratory
- Co-founder of Chak De 'Deis (South Asian dance group)
- International volunteer for building hospital in rural Ethiopia
- Active member of FIMRC (Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children)
- Summer internship at Brigham and Women's Hospital
How did you navigate decision-making during your sophomore year?
My journey from a clueless freshman to an insightful sophomore definitely didn't occur overnight. It was useful to evaluate my freshman year classes and look through the course handbook to decide what major I would be interested in. Once I had a certain major(s) in mind, I met with numerous professors, department heads and event advisors from Academic Services to help shape my coursework list. Having an early awareness of the university, major and minor requirements I had to fulfill assisted in making smarter choices among the sea of unique classes I wanted to take. I also found it very helpful to seek upperclassmen for advice on classes, professors and other committments. They have experienced the decision-making process themselves and often have much to say.
What campus resources did you utillize during your sophomore year?
One of the campus resources I found most helpful was the Writing Center. Whether it was developing a thesis or elucidating a rought draft, the Writing Center "tutors" assisted in taking an ordinary paper and transforming it into a work of art. I would encourage utilizing this resource also because it allows you to start thinking about the paper earlier on.
The Hiatt Career Center is another useful resource when it comes to acquiring internships, jobs and interviews. Seeking advice from these Hiatt advisors can help shape your resume, discover internship opportunities and open channels to new career paths. Personally, I recommended the alumni shadowing program within Hiatt and also using NACElink to search for internship listings, alumni career mentors, and jobs. It can be a little confusing at first, but very helpful once you learn how to navigate through the website.
What advice would you give other sophomores?
I would say that generally the first year is dedicated to exploring academic and social aspects of college. This often leads to an inconsistent lifestyle due to various pressures of being away from home, surviving classes and interacting with peers. One of the most important things I learned my sophomore year is to take care of myself. Everyone needs to get enough sleep, eat healthy and exercise regularly to be able to handle and balance life in college.
During my first year at Brandeis, I ventured into numerous extracurricular activites (like any other freshman). But as my sophomore year began, I started to prioritize my commitments based on interest, time obligations and also the people I would be working wtih. I am passionate about my involvement in the activities I partake in and I let that enthusiasm usher notable accomplishments within the organization. Evidently, there needs to be a balance between classes and other activities so I suggest using time wisely.
Many say that college is the only time you get to "try out new things." The first year should be dedicated to this, but in your sophomore year, try to focus on settling on a certain academic interest/course of study. Definitely design each semester with academic variety and distribution of course load. For example, taking a lab, creative arts course, science course, writing and discussion course allows for an amalgamation of the type work you do in one semester.
Also, I suggest that students begin searching for their summer internships by/during December break. That allows for better awareness of what internships/jobs are available and also give the individual an edge over people who start later on. Especially in an economy such as this one, staying on top of required tasks earlier has many benefits.