By Yang Deng, USC Viterbi,MSCE Transportation 2018
Should I continue my education? What about a professional degree? And how do I pay for it? These and many other questions can be daunting for students. Some students have a good feel for their future. However, most, and often the international students facing new immigration requirements, do not. To assist, on February 7, 2018, at USC, METRANS hosted a panel of four current students and recent graduates to share their experience studying and working, and often at the same time.
Dr. Michael Lin, Senior Associate, Center for Regional Economics, Milken Institute began by sharing his experience and his decision to start with a professional doctorate, and transfer to a fully funded PhD program, both within the Price School. After completing his PhD, Dr. Lin continued his education with a certificate program in Real Estate at UCLA. “Do not limit yourself to a traditional degree path, or ever feel that your education is over” he advised. “The certificate program at UCLA was every bit as interesting and valuable as my degree programs, and gave me a real career advantage.”
Panel Speakers: Top from left:Shichun Hu, Kate Amissah;Bottom from left Sue Dexter, Michael C.Y. Lin
Current USC Viterbi Industrial and Systems Engineering PhD student, Shichun Hu, shared that her motivation for pursuing her current degree program was to have the opportunity to be trained in critical thinking, and that her education was fully funded by the school, plus a stipend with which she was able to cover her living expenses and other costs. “I really enjoy the sense of being rigorous and the beautiful clash of minds of people from different backgrounds that a PhD program brings,” she shared.
Kate Amissah, Principal Transportation Planner in Regional Rail for LA Metro, USC Master of Science, Civil Engineering, Transportation graduate and current MBA student at California State University San Bernardino noted that not only attending panels like these but also reaching out to current and former students are excellent ways to get personal, recent, and relevant advice, advice which students need to make the important decision to either leave school, continue their education, or return after a time in the workforce. She shared that she really enjoys her degree program, which is in a very different field than her first, that it rounds out her education, and that she appreciates financial support from her employer, Metro, which goes a long way to deferring her costs of completing the program.
When asked what advice she would give to those considering graduate school, Sue Dexter, USC Price School of Public Policy PhD student shared that one should really look carefully into both the purpose and specialization of the degree he or she is considering. “For example,” she noted, “a master's degree helps students open their minds and chose various areas and change course, but for a PhD. you need to be clear on what you want to do long term in the area.” And regarding a PhD. she recommended that the best way to choose the research subject is, “picking the one you wake up every day wishing to learn more about. Before applying, you should be at the point where you are able to articulate your potential research and your motivation for pursuing it,” she added. Sue also shared that she appreciated the full financial support and stipend provided by the University.
I am grateful to have the opportunity to attend events like these. METRANS provides various programs to meet students’ different demands. Besides these practical seminars, METRANS hosts research seminars, numerous the field trips, and the mentor program, which matched more than 100 students match with long-term, professional mentors from varied fields.
To be up to date on these programs, as well as interesting news, engagement, and employment opportunities, I encourage you to subscribe to METRANS’s weekly student news, METRANS on the Move, using this link.
About the author
Author Yang Deng is a graduate student majoring in Transportation Engineering at USC. He joined METRANS as a student assistant in 2016 and in addition to the mentor program, heads up the graphics and design efforts of the METRANS student team. He is also the Student Ambassador at USC International Academy, holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial design, and is particularly interested in data visualization, infographics, and using design methods to solve traffic problems. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org