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Matthew Shum

Matthew_ShumUndergrad: University of Oregon, Eugene, OR
Internship: Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, Cambridge, MA
Currently at: Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, Cambridge, MA

What attracted you to the program?

What attracted me to the program was the field of Bioinformatics itself. Prior to my application to the program, I have never even heard of the term, “Bioinformatics.” (That’s how new the field was!) It was not until my final year of Undergraduate school that a friend and fellow graduate of the Bioinformatics program told me to consider applying. At first, I was mildly intrigued because of the internship component but once I researched the subject, I quickly realized the impact the field was having on biology. Nowadays, the bioinformatics field is fairly established but new technologies are popping up every 6 months! The field is ever progressing. And our ability to answer new questions about biology demonstrates why bioinformatics is an exciting field.

How did you find the intensive nature of the program?

The summer “boot camp” was definitely tough because I had no prior programming experience. There is a learning curve when transitioning from thinking like a biologist to thinking like a computer scientist. However, once you make the transition, you would have poured a solid foundation for your skills to build upon. I definitely felt prepared to succeed at my internship.

What was your internship like?

Although I felt prepared for my internship, nothing beats hands-on experience working with real-life problems and real-life questions. Furthermore, I could not ask for a better learning environment while working with some of the top minds in the industry.

How did the program prepare you for your current position?

The hours I put in boot camp and internship were invaluable for my growth as a bioinformatician. I would not be able to snag a full-time position if it were not for the basic programming skills I learned and improved upon during my internship.

Advice to prospective students?

Put in the time. The more you work with a particular concept or tool, the more comfortable you will be.

Be curious and do not be afraid to ask questions.

If working in industry, network network network. Knowing the right people to talk to can not only speed along your research, but also find you a job.