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Jennifer Maki graduated from UW-Superior in 2000 after obtaining a degree in Chemistry with a concentration in Biochemistry. Upon graduation, Maki made the decision to further her education, and she attended graduate school at Iowa State University. She spent much of her time working with a small group of people doing research, and it was then that she decided she wanted to have more social interaction in her job. After working as a teaching assistant, Maki realized that teaching was her calling. Her passions lead her to the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, MN, where she is now working as an Associate Professor of Chemistry.
While she was attending UW-Superior, Maki was involved with a couple of things that certainly helped her into her career. First, she worked on some undergraduate research with a few of her science professors that was focused on biology, chemistry, and biochemistry. Maki also worked at the Lake Superior Research Institute at UW-Superior alongside Professor Kurt Schmude, where she helped with collecting and testing samples from wetlands. Aside from her research within her major, Maki enjoyed working as a math tutor at the university as well.
These experiences were the stepping stones that she needed to get to the next level on her career path. Not only did these opportunities eventually help her to obtain her job at the College of St. Scholastica, but they also opened up multiple options for where she could attend graduate school.
Even now that Maki has found her niche in teaching, she is not about to give up her research quite yet. Along with her responsibilities as a professor, she still works on research studies with undergraduate students in her laboratory. This means that on top of teaching classes, providing advisement, and mentoring students, Maki also has to find time to do research of her own. With so much to do and not enough hours in the day, she will frequently be working on both evenings and weekends.
Though she has a busy schedule to handle, Maki's passion and dedication to the job makes it all worth it. She enjoys being able to work with the undergraduate students and give them guidance and advice for their futures. She also loves the teaching aspect, especially when students have the moments of epiphany where she can tell that something has finally clicked for them.
Maki's love for science has encouraged her to become an active promoter of the field on the St. Scholastica campus. Being the head of the National Science Foundation and the director of Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, it is an enjoyable part of Maki's work to be able to encourage students at the university to build on their interests and pursue degrees in this field.
Maki is happy with her position as a professor, but she is still looking towards career advancement. In the short-term, she is hoping to get the promotion from an associate professor to a full-time professor. There is a good chance that this progression would also land her in the position of the Department Chair. As for her long-term goals, Maki is not firmly set on where she wants to be, though she is considering looking into work within the educational administration.
While she was attending graduate school, Maki received inspiration from one of her professors, who told her that she would be great at anything that she wanted to do. Maki took this motivation to heart and she allowed her passion to guide her. Even though to some people her major may seem limiting, she knows that she could go in many different directions with her degree. This is an important piece of information that Maki wants to be sure students are aware of. To any students considering majoring in a science related field, Maki directs, "there are many different career paths you can follow with a degree in biochemistry or chemistry in academia, industry or government work. Teaching is just one option, and you should pursue what you love."
Though it is rumored that you must have a master's degree in order to gain consideration for a job, Maki believes that this is completely dependent on what type of work you are looking to go into. To her, work experience and internships are a big help because they can prove to an employer that you are dedicated to your field and that you have a strong work ethic. To employers, these are the qualities that catch their attention and put you up for further consideration.
Jennifer Maki was interviewed as a part of the Career Services Day in the Life project. Her full interview and those of other UW-Superior alumni can be found on the Day in the Life website, http://www.uwsuper.edu/career/students/a-day-in-the-life.cfm.
Interview conducted by Tashina Martinson on March 7, 2012. Article written by Kristen Jasperson.
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