Gaining Real-World Experience as an Undergrad with Anya

Segment #18 from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute


Okay, everyone, let’s meet Anya, a senior physics major who’s gonna tell us about the exciting things that happen off campus in the Arch program, which facilitates students spending a semester away from campus to pursue their passions like research or studying or working abroad. Take it away, Anya.

– Thanks, Alex. Hi everyone. I’m a senior physics major here at RPI. After visiting the campus, I committed to RPI with high hopes and I haven’t been disappointed. My college experience has been overwhelmingly positive, formative, and absolutely unforgettable. Outside of classes, the two activities that take most of my time are soccer and band. I’m president of the women’s club soccer team, and I also help run pickup soccer sessions jointly with the men’s team. I also play the trumpet in the pep band and in a more formal trumpet octet. Needless to say, I’m always rushing around to get to my next thing and my life on campus is very exciting. But one of the best things about RPI is actually what happens off campus. RPI has a program called the Arch in which each student pursues a personal or professional development opportunity for one semester of their junior year. In the fall of my junior year, I scored a prestigious opportunity doing laser plasma acceleration experiments at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California. There I worked with a giant petawatt class laser system and even got to shoot it myself. In addition to professional and technical skills, I also learned a lot of soft skills, as I was living completely independently on the west coast and getting my first taste of true adult life. That experience taught me the importance of internships. So the following summer, I went on to apply for more, and I was lucky to land a position at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in New Mexico. There I spent 10 weeks conducting research, visiting world-class telescopes, meeting celebrities in radio astronomy, traveling the southwest, and building lifelong friendships with my fellow interns. Prior to the Arch, I wasn’t aware of the opportunities that exist within my field, but RPI allowed me to explore my potential and gave me the confidence to be assertive in pursuing my dreams. Well, that’s it for me. Back to you, Alex.

– So Anya, you’re telling me you pursued both of those experiences while an undergraduate student at RPI? That is pretty amazing. It’s great to hear that RPI students have dedicated time in the academic calendar for professional development and pursuing their passions. Thanks again, Anya.

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