Was it worth it? I joined Python Group during my senior year of my undergraduate degree. I spent a majority of my time outside of the lab developing my computational and scientific communication skills and thought Python Group would help me further improve myself before graduate school. I quickly took notice of the leadership of Bethany (The Pub Club Founder/Coordinator) and began shadowing her. When I couldn’t make it to the Friday Pub Club meetings, I would come after to chat with Bethany and offer my assistance. Recognizing my leadership potential, she asked me to send out email reminders for the Python Group. Shortly after, I was coordinating the weekly meetings, posting meeting recaps on The Hub, and helping to guide the members through their topics of interest. Despite not being an expert, we explored new topics with our members and met their individual computational needs.
One difficulty with Python Group was finding a format that suited everyone. I asked the members how they would like to learn and tried everything from online tutorials to presentations by other members. The trick with coordinating the group was to be flexible. Flexibility allowed the most participation with the least stress, since schedules of graduate students and post-docs are hectic at times (more like most of the time). Participation was variable depending on the semester but that was also the beauty of the club. Each semester breathed new life into the club and a new mix of members created a unique atmosphere.
I hope that the group members learned new techniques to aid in their research and improve their scientific communication. Learning the latest and greatest in the computational world can be intimidating, but I am confident that the group members will continue to advance in their computational proficiency within their respective areas of research. The club has allowed me to stay organized, embrace flexibility and learn new tricks for my work. While interviewing for graduate school, many were intrigued to see “Python Group Coordinator” on my CV and it was frequently a topic of conversation. I was proud of my ability to hold intelligent conversations about programming languages such as R and Python even though I was only an undergraduate*. Above all, I have improved my science both inside and outside the lab and see great value in new experiences like The Pub Club and Python Group. Scientists sometimes believe it is all about the science, but today we need to have solid science that includes excellent communication skills. Was it worth it? Becoming a part of Python Group, The Pub Club, and related clubs helped me gain and strengthen these skills. It could do the same for you!
*I was fortunate enough to start my scientific career in the Friesen laboratory, which viewed undergraduates as scientific beings and not just undergraduates. I say “only an undergraduate” to emphasize how early in my career I was.