Science is a man’s world. My field is not the most macho, but still it’s worth mentioning some unsung female pioneers. Working on our essay about simulation in social science, I learned about three I didn’t know before:
Klara von Neumann—coded the first simulation program, codenamed Monte Carlo. It was the second major project to run on the first programmable computer. It was the first program: to use function calls, to be loaded into the computer with the input data, to generate pseudorandom numbers. She had a famous husband, also working on the same project, but if it was a modern science project, she’d probably be the first author of a paper. Read more here. I guess programming ENIAC wasn’t like “import numpy as np” either.
Mary Tsingou—was a part of the Fermi-Pasta-Ulam project (like the above, a post-Manhattan-project project, kicking off the field of nonlinear science and a precursor of…
Ph.D. this one word has the power to fill a mind with completely different thoughts, for some people it is a traumatized life, for some this goal is hard to achieve, for some it is a never-ending process, for some it is a group of boring aged people, for some it is a degree to get a better job, and for few it is surely a fun, excitement, relaxation, meditation and a lot more.
What does my Ph.D. mean to me? For me, it is a learning process to live a better life the way I want. For me, it is just a way to live a life based on my own terms and conditions.
I joined my Ph.D. because I always dreamed of doing one (I will share all reasons in detail sometime later). During my Ph.D. I had some ups and down, I understood how does it feel like being on two extremely opposite poles of life like on one extreme being elated and on other being dispirited or at one time being highly motivated and at the other time being completely discouraged. But overall, it is a fun process that will make you out as a totally new person. I completely agree that it has changed my perspective, my way to handle the situation and deal with people, and even more.
Here, I am going to briefly explain every single thing that I enjoyed during my Ph.D., and the list is below:
The very first thing that I completely enjoyed during my Ph.D. is Open Discussions. Once, one of my friends said: I like to discuss science with a cup of Bournvita. And it’s really true. During all the free time or when we were tired of our works, we used to discuss every single thing in the world. We used to have an enormous capacity to discuss anything, whether it is some health tips, latest papers, physics, math or anything. My supervisor always used to ignite the discussion and motivated us to understand the science of everything. I feel it helped me a lot and I gained a lot of knowledge from these discussions. First thing, it will help you to improve your interpersonal discussion skills, Second, it will help you to know about other’s work, and the last but not the least, it will also give you a chance to discuss your work. So, next time wherever you are, in a conference or in a meeting, you are ready to explain your work from a school kid to a specialist in your field. I will suggest every student, discuss as much as possible during your Ph.D.
Book Reading: I read many popular science books and also interesting motivational books during my Ph.D. These popular science books helped me to get the depth of different subjects, at the same time, other books helped me to be motivated during the research. I am a big fan of Paulo Coelho and his books helped me to better understand the life. They never let me feel demotivated. I read books on crowdsourcing, behavioral economics, positive psychology, neuroscience, etc. I have a list of all read books on my homepage. Still, there are many books in the “yet to read” list and I keep adding more 🙂
Motivational Blogs, Articles, and Talks: Initially my supervisor suggested me to read some blogs like a blog by Dr. Radhika Nagpal and some motivational videos like by Dr. Richard Hamming. I always enjoy reading more articles, blogs, and all these ideas always keep me motivated. These things really helped to better understand the research, the motivation of research and even to better understand the Ph.D. like what should you aim and what you actually want. I spend almost all my Sunday reading them and even I have a broadcast mailing list where I share any good article that I come through. It also helps me to connect with the people of same interest.
Paper Reading: I always maintained one rule: Daily Read Research Papers. Sometimes it is not possible to finish a paper in a day, still, I used to read at least for 3-4 hours daily. This morning reading used to help me to give a lot of ideas to work on. I also maintain a diary to note down all these amazing questions. I will also suggest to a student, try this at least once and note down the ideas as soon as you get them otherwise you will forget it later. It’s true that a good research idea will strike you again and again, but still, it’s better to note down at some place so that you can come back to it later.
Discuss Your Work: I always enjoyed discussing my work with my colleagues and friends even if they were not from the same stream. It helped me to get clarity of my work and if we discuss the work with fresh minds, they can also come up with some randomly new ideas which might help you to get a completely new direction towards your work. If we discuss our work with new students, it will motivate them to better understand the research, and some of them can also join you as a collaborator. The connections made during Ph.D. are for the lifetime. I also enjoyed discussing others’ work and help them to choose the best that they want. I gave many presentations during my Ph.D. and I was always excited to give even more 😀
Meet the Deadlines: I always tried my best to meet the deadlines that I set for me. But I always kept one thing in mind: Don’t set the deadline for the paper submission, if the work is not ready. In the starting of the career, it can be harmful. My supervisor helped me to understand this and how it can lead to a shallow work. These deadlines also will not let you enjoy the process of research. So, I always just focused on my work, once it’s done, you can set the submission deadline and work towards it. Still, I tried to set some smaller milestones and always tried my best to meet them. These smaller accomplishments always kept me happy 🙂
Exercise and Yoga: During Ph.D., it is essential to take good care of your health. Initially, I used to feel that I don’t have time for all this. But once I started managing my time, it became an important part of my daily schedule. I was having enough time and the first time in my life, I continued yoga for such a long time and seriously it also helped me a lot.
Hobbies: I always kept some dedicated time for my hobbies except the reading and writing like I enjoy cooking, so, I always prepare something for me at least once a week. I have a list of dishes that you can prepare just with the help of an electric kettle or even without that. I do crafts like making cards. I write poems and also blogs that you already know :P. I won many prizes in poetry and essay competitions in IIT Ropar. Except this, I have some dedicated time to work on my social helping projects and this is one thing that really makes me proud.
I also had some bad times as I told you earlier, but they were very small as compared to all good things. We don’t need to discuss them here, the first reason is: wherever you are, life always has ups and downs and more they are better you learn, and the second is: negativity is more contagious, It lingers in our mind for long time :P. I am a person who overthinks and so I always especially try to be positive. I always talk with positive and motivating people. I will also suggest the same to others. It is applicable in all phases of life.
Ph.D. is one of the best experience of the life where I learned how to handle success and failure, how to deal with completely different people, and still learning more. I hope, my Ph.D. will shape me as a good academician, a good researcher, and the most important a better person 🙂
Journey for the lifetime has begun and I want to cherish every single moment of it 🙂
This is my first blog-post, that I am writing about Google Women Techmakers (WTM) Scholarship. I was selected as one of the scholars by Google under Asia-pacific women techmakers scholarship program in 2017.
I was always waiting for a perfect topic to post my first blog and I got one. You all will be thinking that there are so many blogs on WTM scholarship then how this is different from others, why do you need to read one more? Yes, you are right but also wrong. This post will help you to walk through a journey that WTM provides you from a scholarship to a community that is always there like a family. In WTM, I met other scholars who were also selected for the scholarship, and they have been a true motivation for me and also for many other people. They have capabilities to change the world and to lead it with all their passion. This blog I am writing mainly about all those lovely young ladies, and I am very happy to dedicate this to all of them as a gift. This will surely help you to see how even a small strongly bounded community can change your life and perspectives.
I will explain the application process briefly:
Apply for WTM: To apply for WTM, you should be enrolled in undergraduate, masters, or Ph.D. program for the respective academic year. Then you can register for Google women techmakers scholarship program. They will ask you for your basic personal details and you also need to write the answers to five essay questions including the details of your technical projects. For essays, I will suggest, explain the answers in briefly but focussing on the main points so that they don’t get missed. It will also be good if you write few answers using bullet points for the questions like what problems you have faced in the technical community being a woman.
This scholarship is given to the women for their outreach events to help other women in the technical community, so, a great importance is given to the programs that you have organized including your leadership roles.
Interview: If your application is shortlisted, they will mail you and will fix a suitable time for the interview. The interview is a formal-cum-casual discussion with a Google employee, at least I see it this way. Still, it will be good if you prepare for it as the final shortlisting is based on your performance in the interview: Re-read your essay answers that you wrote in the application, you should be clear about everything that you have mentioned in your resume and also about your projects. I will also suggest that prepare for some general questions that can be asked during the interview like:
How do you see that the gender equality will help the technical community?
Why do most of the women quit their professional career?
What kind of affirmative/supportive actions can be taken to increase the ratio of women in the technical community?
If you see a woman quitting from the technical educational program, how will you convince and motivate her to continue the same?
What is the best age to motivate girls to study the science?
Who is your role model and what impact s/he has on your career choices?
Except this, I will advise you that you read some good articles which talk about the gender biases in the existing society. It will surely help you to be confident and prepare for other random questions. I will just suggest you, be honest and confident and I am sure you will win it. 🙂 The interview was scheduled for 30 minutes but the discussion was going nice and interesting, so, it was continued for around 45 minutes.
Retreat: The Real Fun
And if you are selected after interview… just cheer… you will be invited by Google to attend the retreat at one of the Google offices and the best part starts there… you are gonna meet all amazing girls. We were invited Google office, Seoul, South Korea for the retreat. Trust me this was the first time in my life when I got a chance to meet so many highly motivated, amazing and technical girls.
WTM scholarship provides you two types of opportunities (this is completely my categorization 😛 ) 1. Direct benefits, 2. Indirect benefits.
Direct benefits: They can be listed as:
WTM retreat: As I told, Google will invite you for the retreat. Google will take care of everything like your travel, stay and even they provided us the details how to reach your hotel from the airport as it was the first international trip for most of the girls. They also try to group the people to book the tickets so that you will be having a good company and also enough time to mingle with the people who are going to be there with you. This retreat was organized for 3.5 days and it was started with a welcome dinner and continued with motivational talks, technical discussions, games, scavenger hunt, and of course last and the most important tasty food. In accommodation, you will get a double sharing room and they make sure that your roommate is from a different country. In all the group events, they always keep shuffling the people in the group so that you can channel with as many people. I will suggest try to talk and meet as many people as you can, even spend time in the evening with them, talk to then before and after the retreat, because this will be one of the best community you will belong to. They (Google event organizers) also created a facebook group for all the scholars, so it will help you to get each others details. We also created WhatsApp group and there you can ask all stupid questions related to retreat even what to wear on which day 😛
Scholarship: Once the retreat is over, Google will start the scholarship payment process and you will receive the scholarship amount and also the reimbursement of the bills that you have paid like visa and all. During retreat, Google also gonna give you lots of swags, so have some space in your baggage 🙂
Indirect benefits: All direct benefits were really great but for me, indirect benefits were life-changing. They have especially motivated me to write this post because these things will be rarely shared with you until and unless you meet a WTM scholar personally.
GOOD FRIENDS: This is the first one and the most important one. All WTM scholars are amazing, they all are selected for their contribution to the community and all these people are very kind and helping. This scholarship will give you a chance to meet them all and surely you are gonna end up being friend as there is a very high probability that you will be having at least something in common, it may be one of your outreach ideas or your technical projects or your future plans. And I can bet it but you can hope for more 😛
Motivation: A community where so many people are doing so many amazing things and continuously sharing the story of their success, I see it’s next to impossible that you can be demotivated there. Even you can help others to organize their events and you will get your share in return too 🙂 You will also get a chance to meet former scholars and Google employees, and they all share the story of their journey with each other.
Invitation to attend more events: After this, Google invited some of the scholars for Google Developer Day. Except this, they also select some scholars and fund their trip to attend GHCI (Grace Hopper Celebration India). In GHCI, you will also be invited to attend a dinner with other scholars of Google under different scholarship programs and Google employees. For me this was one of the best discussions. We came to know about many more exciting new projects that Google is working on. You will also get a chance to discuss your ideas, and you can get collaborators too.
Google Funds to Organize Outreach Events: Google will help you further to organize more events. They might provide you funds or swags to make your event more successful.
I am yet to know more: Yes, I have been the part of this community for the past 4 months and I had so much to write. I am still on the journey to explore more and more and will share with you for sure 🙂
There are so many beautiful memories and I can’t write down all of them but whenever I think of that time, it makes me happy and overwhelmed.
Final suggestion: Never ever miss it, Just Apply and before that don’t forget to make your contribution towards the society. Your small efforts will make this place better for others. You will be a motivational icon for others and you can be, just trust yourself. 🙂
There are also some other blogs on how to apply for the scholarship by other co-scholars and their experiences. You can take a look: