At this level of schooling, it is really important to build one's network. Professors may offer seeds of information in passing that later blossom into project ideas. Classmates may already work in the field and have first hand experience that help you refine your plans.

This semester seems to be full of networking opportunities. I didn't realize it, but I selected three classes with professors I have not had yet (though one remembered me from a volunteering experience and thought I'd been in her class). Then, tonight, the classmate I sat beside is in all three of my classes. This is a first. In the past, I've had several classmates show up in two, but never three.

The biggest networking opportunity came after tonight's class. In talking to J, the classmate in all my classes, I'd mentioned GameTeen's Asperger's. This prompted the instructor to ask me some questions about this. He revealed that he's in the process of applying for a grant to do some interesting research with this student population (completely different from what I want to do), then asked if I knew of others with HFA/Aspergers that would be interested in participating.

I went one better. GameTeen's school director is a Ph.D student at my school. The next few minutes were spent describing the school and student population, how she is already open to the idea of research within the school (when parents agree, that is) and then offered to 'introduce' them to each other via email.

Usually, the student is looking to the professor for networking. I'm glad that when a professor came to me for ideas, I had a connection for him. Hopefully, this connection will be beneficial for GameTeen's school and my professor...


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