Follow these tips for getting involved in research
September 8, 2020
Getting involved in research during the semester is tough. Most of the time the positions are limited and can be very competitive. In fact, there are also many positions that require previous research experience for an applicant to even be considered. So, now’s the time to do your research and look for research programs that are accepting first-time students. In many cases, getting a research position involves using the resources available to you to pull on your connections and get a little help from others.
A way for a beginner to look for research is to check out the virtual job board. After a quick Google search, a board will pop up, and you can set what positions and jobs you would be interested in. There is an option for you to select research, and once you do this, all of the available positions will pop up. You can look through these positions to see if any of them would apply to you. Each position lists the duration, pay and skills needed to apply. If you do not find anything the first time you search, it’s a good idea to check back a week or so later because employers post listings all the time.
Another way to find a research position could be in your class. As a psychology major, I have had multiple professors offer research positions in class. This is a great opportunity to get to know your professor more and to be at the top of their list for research. Although this means that you do not get to choose the type of research you will be doing, beggars can’t be choosers, and undergraduate research positions are few and far between. I know multiple people who have gotten research positions from their professors and it has led to incredible opportunities. In fact, one of them got to witness a surgery performed by a veterinarian. So if the research position offered in class isn’t your style, it’s a good idea to check it out anyway.
There is also a website for the Office of Undergraduate Research. If you put that into Google, it will bring up a website filled with research and related positions. There are many opportunities to get involved on this website, although you have to be careful because if this is your first research position, it may be difficult to get a position as an ambassador or a lab manager. These positions usually require previous experience so you should be on the lookout for research assistants. Research assistant positions are great for beginners and often help you get your feet wet in the research field. If all else fails, you can always email a leader in research to see if they would take you on.
Finally, a very successful way to get prompt responses is by having one of your professors reach out to someone who is performing research. Of course, this requires that you be on good terms with your professor, meaning you should participate in class, attend office hours and ask relevant questions. If the professor begins to notice you and especially if they know your name, it would be the perfect time to ask them to reach out to someone for you. Remember that it’s necessary that you do your homework before asking them to email someone for you because you only get one chance at this!
Overall, I hope you can find a research position using these suggestions! The suggestions listed here are not the only ways to find research opportunities, but they are a good start. Especially having a professor email for you will guarantee a response whether it’s good or bad. Success is not a straight line, so remember to not get frustrated if it doesn’t work out right away. I wish you the best of luck on your hunt for research positions!
Bella is a junior in LAS.