UT SWE encourages you to explore all options as you progress through your degree and think about your future career. One overlooked career path is graduate school and we wanted to provide some insight into what it’s like being a graduate student with our members. We sat down with graduate student Arkasama Bandyopadhyay who is getting her Ph.D. in mechanical engineering and asked her a few questions on what graduate school is like and why she chose it.
Why did you choose graduate school?
I chose graduate school because I knew from early on that I wanted to teach and mentor students at the university level.
What are some differences between undergraduate and graduate school?
An undergraduate degree is mainly about coursework, internships, extra-curricular activities, learning about research, etc. On the other hand, in graduate school, most students are done with coursework in the first couple of years and then move on to completely focus on research. An undergraduate degree is usually very structured, and you know that you did well if you got an A at the end of the semester. But with research in grad school, you have to figure out your topic and methodology of research and there is always room to improve no matter how much effort you put in it.
What is a pro and a con of going to graduate school?
Pro of grad school is that (depending on your advisor and nature of work) your work schedule is very flexible. A con is that, especially for a Ph.D., you spend most of your 20's making very little money.
What advice would you give someone applying to graduate school?
Know whether you want a Master's or a Ph.D. and if confused, start out with a Master's first.
If you are interested in learning more about graduate school, we highly encourage you to sign up for Brown Bags with Grads next semester. Brown Bags with Grads is a great program where SWE pairs you with a graduate student and you get coffee or lunch together and learn more about graduate school. If you have any questions about brown bags with grads feel free to reach out to our corporate branch for more information.