Estimated reading time 6 minutes (1049 words)
Like many other grad students, I’ve been discouraged from doing outreach.
“You should be working on something you can publish”
“It’s noble but it’s not going to help your career”
“You can do that later in your career”
I never understood this attitude. If we’re not communicating our science and educating others, who are we doing this for?
But unfortunately, a lot of people get pushback from professors when it comes to outreach.
It’s seen as a nice little activity that you do on the side when you have time and add a line to your CV.
But it can be so much more than that. It can change a kid’s life and give them inspiration to do something they would have never considered otherwise.
It can also change your life, as a grad student.
I didn’t personally have much experience with outreach until this last year of graduate school when I taught in a summer camp. I honestly didn’t expect much from it, besides that it would be fun to talk to some kids.
But after spending a few days with these kids, I can tell you that they did more for me than I could have possibly done for them.
It was the first time I felt I could make a difference, that I had something to offer. Instead of just sitting locked away in my little ivory tower, I could make these kids laugh, teach them something and inspire them to be the scientists I knew could be.
After this experience, I knew that I wanted to make this a permanent part of my academic life. I didn’t just want to do science, I wanted to share science.