ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT | APRIL 2014
KU major: Philosophy, Class of 2006
Current occupation: Web developer
Research mentor while at KU: Ben Eggleston
Describe the undergraduate research experience that you had while at KU: I wrote a senior honor's thesis on aspects of choice theory and ethics.
Q: What do you think was the most important thing you learned while doing undergraduate research?
A: How to take an original idea, break it down into chunks and work at it systematically over time. That is closer to how I perform my job now than any other classroom work I did at KU.
Q: What advice do you have for undergraduates who might be interested in doing research?
A: It can be one of the most frustrating and most rewarding aspects of your education. It's a great opportunity to explore something in great depth and is great preparation for graduate school and the working world. My advice is to set a schedule waaaay in advance and try to stick to it. It is impossible to write 80 pages in a weekend.
Q: Do you use any of the skills or perspectives gained doing research in your current occupation? How so?
A: I spend my day reading densely written technical documentation, pulling out relevant content and applying the information creatively. That's pretty much exactly the same as philosophical research.
Q: Many undergraduate researchers are making decisions about what to do after they graduate from KU. Having been in those shoes, what do you know now that you wish you’d known then? Do you have any advice?
A: The people who do the best in the working world have the same attitude as those that pursue undergraduate research. They take initiative. They actively seek out unknown areas where they can add value. They dedicate time to building solutions. And they reach out for feedback along the way. It's easy to show up and complete assignments for class. It's very hard to try something that no one has tried before, but ultimately that's the only way to distinguish oneself. In short, the process is the most value. The results may never be looked at again (which is my ultimate dream for my own honors thesis), but the mindset is incredibly valuable. Take the skills and apply them over and over.
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