Six Degrees of Separation

As an undergraduate student, it is quite challenging for me to meet up with strangers and talk about networking in real life. There are plenty of ways to meet new friends through clubs, classes, and student organizations. However, there weren’t many ways to meet new people in higher positions that can provide me advice, support, and insights within the same career paths. As the famous Six Degrees of Separation states, that all people are six, or fewer, social connections away from each other. A well-established network has become a crucial part of our social lives. I had the opportunity to expand my networking through the Brackenridge Fellowship, and I can’t wait to make connections with other Pitt alums. As I browse through the Brackenridge Fellow community group, Pietra Bruni, a Ph.D. student studying Clinical Psychology, came into my attention. My future goals are to pursue a doctorate in clinical psychology and to work both as a researcher and a clinical psychologist. While Pietra hasn’t responded to me yet, I am excited to hear back from her about her challenges and successes, and indeed, gain more insights from her.

My mentor Dr.Kennedy was my professor for Psychopathology class in fall 2019. As some of my friends told me that office hours give a student a chance to establish a relationship with a professor, and it is beneficial to let my professor know that I am interested in learning this class. I visit her in office hours, and during our conversations, I had spoken to her that I am interested in participating in the lab and do psychology research. Dr.Kennedy said she might have opportunities for me during the summer and would like me to contact her in spring for future discussions. Brackenridge Fellowship was totally out of my plan before Dr.Kennedy mentioned it to me in the middle of the spring semester. Honestly, I was quite afraid of applying because it seems there is still a long way to go before I can get this offer. Thanks to Dr.Kennedy’s advice and help, we were able to come up with a question, write a proposal, and submit the application in less than two weeks.  My first advice to other students when trying to find connections is to go to office hours and get to know your professor; it will take less than 5 minutes to stop by and say hi, and what you get out of it is the professor knows your face and your name right away. Another thing that might be helpful if you are trying to get into a lab but don’t know where to start is to use Pitt’s faculty website, see which professor’s work overlapped with your interest, and just email them. The worst you can get is that the lab is full or they don’t want an undergraduate, so don’t be afraid!

Thinking about my career goals, I am interested in making connections with my professors and Lab PIs and other professionals from different disciplines as they always provided me new insights.

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