Finding my path

Finding my path

Apr 12
Sara Tondini, Animal Sciences graduate student

When I started my ACES career I was sure about one thing; I wanted to work with animals. I was basically unsure about all the rest. From an advisor standpoint, I can see how I might have seemed like a lot of work. Surely you have some direction? You know what jobs you’re interested in? You know whether or not you like the big animals or the small animals? I didn’t. I found out very quickly that I knew very little about my major and the opportunities available to me, but here I am now, a graduating senior. I found out I like the big animals. I’m interested in nutrition research, and I’ll be headed to graduate school at the U of I this fall because I just can’t get enough of the College of ACES. I can’t take all the credit for figuring these things out. My advisor, Dr. Shike, helped me find my path (while it may have been a twisty one) and I’m very appreciative of his guidance. I’ve figured out the three things that made him the best advisor, and I’m going to share them with you.

Availability – I ask a million questions. I understand that professors are super busy, but that doesn’t make my million questions go away. I always feel like I might be bugging them, but I never felt as though I was a burden to Dr. Shike when asking about a class or what to prepare for my grad school interview or whether or not I would be good in sales. Dr. Shike answered these questions in a long email thread or made time for a meeting, even though I’m sure he had better things to do.

Honesty – I was honest with Dr. Shike when I said I liked every single subject in animal science, and he was honest with me when he said, “We should narrow that down.” Ultimately, when we get out of college, we’re hoping for a job. While having lots of interests isn’t a bad thing, Dr. Shike taught me that it’s important to have a focus. He didn’t say “That’s great I’m sure you’ll find a job with all your interests,” and then sent me on my way. We talked a lot about the classes I liked the most and what parts of my internship I enjoyed and what jobs I could see myself doing and what jobs I would be terrible at (sales J ).

Knowledge- The reason I trusted Dr. Shike was not because he has a Ph.D. (although it helped) but it was because he listened when I said things, and I felt he had my best interests in mind. I didn’t know about all the jobs available to me, or what a fellowship was, or how to take the GRE, or how many times is too many times to email a potential graduate school professor. Dr. Shike knew all of these things and knew how to guide me in the best possible way. I’ve always felt as though Dr. Shike was preparing me for bigger things than just landing a job. I felt that I was being pushed to reach my full potential in an area I’m passionate about.

Huge thank you to our amazing ACES Faculty and the differences you’re making in our lives. WE APPRECIATE YOU!  

Tondini and Shike