Galen Smith's story illustrates the truth behind Ralph Waldo Emerson's famous quote: "the right performance of this hour's duties is the best preparation for the hours and ages that will follow." Galen, who earned his master's degree in June from the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, made the best of his Work Award position at the Penrose Library Research Center.
As a recent story in DU Today informs, Galen used the experience he gained at the center -- a resource for students who need help with research projects -- to land a position as a research assistant for Korbel Associate Professor George DeMartino. He and another assistant helped Dr. DeMartino complete his book, An Economist's Oath.
Oxford University Press plans to publish the book in November, according to DU Today. Read our online interview with Galen Smith below.
Q: How did you choose your Work Award job?
A: I knew I wanted to find a position in research. The job at the library was my first choice that I found on the DU Student Employment website. I was fortunate enough to be interviewed for the position and not have to worry about settling for second or third options.
Q: How did your Work Award job at DU help you prepare for your work with Dr. DeMartino and your wider career goals?
A: First of all, the Work-Study job helped me get the job in the first place. George was interested in someone who had experience with research, and he cited the job as a major reason for hiring me over other candidates.
My initial position involved finding various articles and books for George, as well as fact checking. The research center was instrumental in preparing me for such tasks since we had received extensive training on how to find all sorts of resources through databases and over the internet. At the research center we essential help students and faculty understand the range of literature that exists on their various topics. Therefore, when George began giving me more detailed projects such as building literature reviews and conducting independent research on topics he didn't have time to look extensively, I was more than practiced at such tasks.
In short, the research center helped not only in showing me how to find individual documents, but also how to research broad topics thoroughly and efficiently.
Q: Tell us what it was like to work at the library and with Dr. DeMartino.
A: It was busy. But because both jobs involved skills that I was expected to utilize in my academic studies, I think I benefited greatly as a student and as a researcher. Also, it helped that working with George was very flexible. As long as I got my work done, there was no set schedule, which allowed me to work whenever I had the spare time to get his stuff done.
Q: Any advice for current Work Program students?
A: I was fortunate to land the job that I wanted most. But I think I would have been happy in many other jobs, simply because a work award is really such a great opportunity. I don't know if this would qualify as "advice", but I think work-study students should realize how amazing such an opportunity really is. The wages are great, the flexibility is crucial for maintaining studies, and you have the opportunity to work in jobs that relate to your education.
Q: What's next, now that you're a DU graduate?
A: The remaining question is whether or not (my work) experiences will help me at the next level: getting me a job in the DC research community. My hope is to land a job with a prominent think tank such as Brookings or the Council on Foreign Relations, dealing with economic policy issues. That remains to be seen! But I am working hard to see that it works out. Although I am confident that should I land a job, I will be able to impress thanks to the skills I've acquired from my experience with George and Penrose.
Photo provided by Galen Smith. Taken at Long's Peak Summit.