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Jacob Pawlik is a 4th year PhD candidate in the polymer/materials division of the Chemistry Department.

1. Tell us a little more about what you’re studying and what your research focuses on.

My research focus is on new battery technologies, namely fluoride-ion batteries. Most people associate fluoride with the cleansing agent in your toothpaste (sodium fluoride), however we are using fluoride as a charge shuttle in a new type of battery. We are seeking to discover materials that can store fluoride ions in larger capacities than in lithium-ion batteries, which translates to electric cars being able to travel even further!

2. What are your general career interests and professional goals after graduation?

I am interested in working at the forefront of energy storage technologies, acting as a scientist in a research and development sector of a battery industry. I hope to oversee product development and eventually manage a small team of scientists.

3. How has participating in the Graduate School’s professional development programs benefited your professional development? Is there a particular workshop or program that you found the most helpful?

All the workshops through the Graduate Student Center have been simply fantastic. Each of them provides concrete skills that I can directly implement in my professional workplace. One of the best workshops I’ve attended is the Effective Mentoring series. This 4-week workshop trained me in how to be an effective mentor to my undergraduate students, and this will directly translate to becoming an effective leader in my future job.

4. Are there other steps you are taking now as a graduate student to prepare yourself for the job market/your industry?

I have been taking classes through the Graduate School’s Graduate Certificate in Business Fundamentals program, namely the Introduction to Business Fundamentals course. It has been extremely helpful in giving me real-world insight into the business sector.

5. What do you wish you had known about professional development in your first year of graduate school?

I wish I would have known about the resources available to me a lot sooner; there is so much to take advantage of! I also wish I was reminded more to constantly develop my professional profile and build connections. It’s often so easy to fall into complacency and lay low once we find a stable job position. However, it is incredibly rewarding to proactively seek out professional development opportunities on a day-to-day basis.

6. Do you have any professional development or career planning advice to offer your fellow graduate students?

Perform informational interviews constantly. My perspective on my career has been so dynamic over the past four years, and really it still changes. Seek out professionals in the field you think you want to study and talk to them. There is so much that I was unaware of, and this information has really solidified what my goals are for my career.

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