Marybeth Beydler (A16) is interning at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, in the spring of 2016. This interview was edited for length and clarity.
St. John’s College: How did you get interested in physics?
Marybeth Beydler (A16): I wanted to do engineering before I came here, [but] the junior lab curriculum got me interested in physics. [James] Beall [physicist and St. John’s faculty member] helped by giving me papers to read. I realized that, one, I didn’t want to do engineering, and two, I’m much more of an experimentalist than a theorist. The junior math and lab curriculum helped me to figure out where I fit on that spectrum. I also liked the questions that we asked in our tutorials, [and] you get to explore those questions more in physics than you would in engineering.
SJC: Who else did you talk with on your journey into physics?
MB: Who didn’t I talk to is really the question. [I talked to] Career Services. Sophomore year my goal was to learn how to write a resume and cover letter and to interview, and to have an internship that summer. I did all of those things with Career Services. Junior year I had to learn how to network, how to talk to alums. I talked to 10 to 15 alums in science, in particular astronomy and physics. I talked to Jill Dahlburg [A78] at the Naval Research Lab. She put me in touch with someone. I talked to him on the phone, and he offered me an unpaid internship. I’ve also talked to other alums via e-mail. One of those alums was Kevin Grizzard [A06], who has a PhD from Johns Hopkins in particle theory. He and I and another alum, Amrit Singh [A15], have been meeting regularly to do quantum mechanics and particle physics.
SJC: What’s your favorite part of interacting with alumni and people you are seeking to emulate?
MB: The most enjoyable thing about it for me is getting to talk to alums from different backgrounds. They have good general life advice that is applicable to anything you might want to do. I was talking to Aaron MacLean [A03] during the Washington Free Beacon trip. He’s a journalist, not a physicist at all, but he had a lot of advice about applying to fellowships and about graduate school. He gave me advice that fit in with my plans. [So] the best part is the little pieces of advice I’ve gotten. Also, some of them have become my friends.
SJC: What advice would you give to other students as they try to think about networking?
MB: Go see Jaime Dunn in the Career Services office! Have a list of fields that you want to explore and ask her for names of people that would be willing to talk to you. And then follow up by e-mailing the 20 people that she gives you, and e-mail all of them. Get some business cards. Business cards look really good. Also, have fun networking. Just have fun, be normal, be yourself.
—Brady Lee (AGI14)