Tips for Undergraduates in Search of Research Opportunities

As a professor who does research, I really like the approach of this article.  An undergraduate encourages his fellow undergraduates around the country to pursue possible research opportunities with their professors.  Though professors cannot always pay undergraduates, they are almost always interested in working with students on their research projects and may be even willing to create titles (such as “research assistant”) that can be used on resumes and vitas.

If you are an undergraduate, check out Thomas Frank’s suggestions for landing a research opportunity at your college or university.  Here is a taste:

Ambitious college students know that they should be working to differentiate themselves from day one.

A great way to bolster your resume, make meaningful connections, and stand out is to get hooked up with a research opportunity at your school.

Doing research as an undergrad is especially important if you plan on going to graduate school, where letters of recommendation from professors are ever-important.

You may already realize the value of a research position, but if you don’t, take a moment to consider the benefits. In some cases, on-campus research positions can double as a paid job, providing you some extra cash that you can use to pay down your loans or use on the weekends.

Even if a research position isn’t paid, the work you do will be valuable to a professor. You may not enjoy working for free, but as personal branding expert Dan Schawbel says, it’s about them, not you.

Helping a professor out and doing good work will enable to you to build a great relationship with them, which can open doors for you in the future.

Let’s say you’re sold on the value of a research position. Now you’ve run up against another roadblock: how do you go about getting a research position? Here are three innovative techniques for you to try: 

1. Put on a smile and ask
The first one is really just a good tip for life itself: Ask.
Seriously, you can just ask your professors about research opportunities. Take the time to get to know them, tell them about your goals, and ask them if they have any research opportunities or have any professor friends that do.

This semester, I asked the head of the IS department of my school about independent study opportunities — he immediately had a project in mind for me.

Your professors are some of the most well-connected people at your school, so they will be one of the best sources of information you can find.

Read the rest here.


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