Name: Janis Shin, from Woodinville, Washington

College: University of Washington, first-year student studying pre-engineering and pre-med

Organization/Job: Center for Infectious Disease Research (CIDR), where she started an undergraduate lab internship on April 10.

How did you find your current internship? I follow the WSOS Facebook page and occasionally there are job or internship postings. I was looking at the CIDR posting and I was interested. I sent in a cover letter and CV and then I interviewed.

What should people know about you? I act assertive and confident even though I don’t feel that way. I have the outlook “I will always be successful.” Having that outlook helps me push on. Before I applied to my current internship, I applied to many other labs. As a freshman, I didn’t have a research background. Other students come in with that experience already so I had to keep trying as I competed against them. If you want something, go get it. Life is too short to wait for things to fall into your lap.

What would be my advice to new scholars? If you’re going to dream, dream big. Time is your biggest constraint and the most precious thing you have. Utilize all your resources, whether it be professors, departments, advisors, Google, and especially WSOS, so that if you ever feel like you’re drowning there’s always someone to talk to.

What should people know about the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship? WSOS’s Skills That Shine (STS) program improved my soft skills exponentially better. I remember I wrote my resume with my mentor. Then I took it to a career fair at UW. My resume was so well written and the companies were visibly impressed by it. My cover letter was looked over by my mentor and she told me specific things and what they were looking for. It was rewarding. During my interview my lab director told me my cover letter was the best that he had seen. This wouldn’t have happened without the help of my mentor Thuc Nguyen and the STS program!

Are you still connected to WSOS in your internship? I can talk to my PO (program officer). She connected me to Amina and Natasha (WSOS graduates also at CIDR). It’s not easy, and having the support system is important. I always talk to other first year college students about WSOS and encourage them to apply. I job shadowed physicians in Goldendale, I went to a high school to talk about college and told them about WSOS. I told the students there, “Even though your parents aren’t in STEM, it doesn’t mean you can’t be.”

You happen to work with other WSOS Scholars at CIDR as well. Is there a shared experience of the program that helps you all connect? Our program director Theresa is such a supportive mentor as well as a valuable resource to the both of us. She embodies the opportunity to succeed. It’s amazing how much she remembers about each scholar and sends opportunities tailored to us.

Have you made connections with other WSOS alumi? We definitely need to work on building a community between scholars through socials or peer-mentorship. Having a support system/community for scholars to not only network, but relate to in the short and long term is very reassuring, especially as first-generation college students. We were thinking about starting school-specific student-run WSOS social clubs, but it’s just an idea for now.

What is your advice for the first day on the job? Listen and take notes! Come to the job with a notebook. STEM jobs are not like retail jobs; there’s actual critical thinking involved every day. Be enthusiastic and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Tell us your Scholar story! Email us at mchambers@waopportunityscholarship.org.