Never be afraid to ask

Hey everyone,


I’m Julie Callanan, a final year PhD student in the School of Microbiology. Prior to my PhD studies, I completed the four-year Biological and Chemical Sciences (CK402) degree here in UCC and graduated with a BSc. in Microbiology. I have always had a love and deep interest in science, human health and how all things micro can have macro impacts on all environments. I was very fortunate to have an amazing science teacher in secondary school who nurtured this curiosity and encouraged me to pursue a career in science.

I’m also very lucky to have learned some key skills and traits that have helped me in my years in UCC. I was delighted to be asked to contribute to the new initiative by the Skills Centre entitled “If I knew then what I know now”. The aim of this novel initiative is a simple one; to provide a resource for all students who are struggling with a particular aspect of college life in the form of advice from other students. The transition from secondary school to undergraduate studies, or from undergraduate student to post-graduate life, may not always be smooth but all over UCC there is an abundance of ways to manage any issue.

I learned early on in college that you should never be afraid to ask people about something you’re not quite sure about, or that you need a little more information on. If you’re struggling with a module, a specific topic you just cannot wrap your head around, or you want to know about potential laboratory studentships (I’d recommend looking into one of these as in CK402 there is no set placement), or you just want to ask about potential post-graduate routes – never be afraid to find someone to ask. There are lecturers who would be more than happy to explain something again to you. There are post-graduate students who can answer any burning questions or queries about PG opportunities. There are thousands of undergraduate students trying to manoeuvre through the same things as you who might be able to help. Finally, there are lists of people associated with every school who will be more than willing to help solve any issues.

The worst thing you can do when you’re unsure or stressed about something is to feel that you can’t ask for the fear of it being a stupid question or asking the wrong person. Regardless of who you ask, a solution will be found and there is no such thing as a stupid question. Honestly. I know that phrase is thrown around a lot but it is true. Ask as much as you want, especially early on in your career when you’re expected to have questions and not fully understand everything.

Thanks for reading this piece and if you do have any questions – just ask!