Sonam Ahluwalia joined the division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences (MCB) as a program assistant in August 2020.
What was working at MCB like?
MCB is a unique division, where people are always looking to improve procedures, share creative ideas, and empower PIs. MCB is a place where any individual can uncover their talents, rise above challenges, and experience a true team environment. I was able to learn incredible skills during my time here and explore other career interests.
What was your first impression of NSF? How did that change over time?
My first impression of NSF was that it was just a government organization that funds science. However, over the years I have learned that NSF is beyond just a federal agency, but embodies forward-thinking, progression, efficiency, and love for all science.
What would you tell someone who is thinking about working at NSF?
Do it! There is much to learn and more to gain.
MCB Division Director, Theresa Good, said about Ms. Ahluwalia, “Sonam was the first person to start in MCB during the pandemic. There was so much uncertainty, but she just took it in stride. She learned quickly, volunteered for just about everything, and was unafraid of any challenge. I can’t wait to see what she does next in her career. “
Lourdes Holloway joined MCB as a Pathways summer student in 2015 and began working as a program assistant in 2018. She became a program specialist in 2019.
What is next for you after your time at MCB?
My next step in my career remains at NSF, moving from BIO/MCB to the Division of Graduate Education in the Education and Human Resources Directorate as a program analyst. In this new position, I will be primarily supporting the Graduate Research Fellowship Program.
What was working at MCB like?
Starting out as a summer student working on records retirement to a program specialist working closely with the operations manager on division finances/operations, it’s been an amazing experience! I am so glad to have started my professional career with MCB, largely due to my colleagues and leadership. MCB is full of dedicated, supportive, and talented staff, which made this experience more rewarding. I appreciate that MCB supports cross-training and development in areas outside of your normal duties. It has allowed me to grow tremendously and develop new skills across various subjects.
Where can undergraduate or graduate students learn about training opportunities at the NSF?
I would highly recommend current students and recent graduates interested in working at the NSF to consider the Pathways Program. It’s a great way to get your foot into the federal workforce and NSF offers a variety of experiences and positions. I had a great experience and it put me on the path I am still on today. Broadly, there are an incredible amount of training opportunities supported by the NSF. That includes programs run by the Division of Undergraduate Education and by the Division of Graduate Education as well as NSF funding opportunities for undergraduate students and graduate students.
MCB Division Director, Theresa Good, said of Ms. Holloway, “It was my privilege to work closely with Lourdes on a number of projects. I got to see firsthand how talented she is. It has been a pleasure to watch her grow in her skills and accomplishments. I hope her new Division knows what a jewel they have in Lourdes. We all wish her the best in her new position.“