It’s actually fairly easy to get an undergraduate research position if you follow these guidelines. Just a few months ago I was in search of experiences that I could add to my resume to make me a better candidate for graduate school. I never thought it would be possible to get a position as an undergraduate researcher. After taking some advice from one of my friends I landed an undergraduate research position. Here’s how to do it:
1. Get to know your professors and their research. Even if you’re at a large school and have classes of 150+ students, you can still get to know your professor. Introducing yourself, saying hello in the hallway, and going to office hours will help you stick out. Doing well in the class will also help you stick out, however it isn’t necessary. Just show that you are putting forth your best effort. You could be a straight A student but if you’re rude and show a lack of interest you won’t be able to get a research position (plus you’ll just come off as a jerk!).
2. Find research that interests you. Then approach the professor and ask more about it. There’s absolutely no point in trying to get a research position that focuses on a topic that you don’t care about. Not only will you get bored and not do your best work, but your mentor will be able to tell that you’re uninterested. Getting an undergraduate research position will look great on a resume, but not if you can’t get a good recommendation or talk with enthusiasm about what you researched.
3. Set up a meeting with your professor or talk to him during his office hours. Tell him that you’re interested in in his research and would also be interested in helping out. Tell him your skills and don’t be afraid to say that your good at something. Sometimes it’s a little weird to talk about what you’re good at because it seems like you’re boasting. However, in this situation, it is best to say you’re good at something (as long as you can back it up with performance!).
Sometimes the position will be strictly volunteer, but it is well worth it for the experience. Usually the volunteer research will lead you to paid research, so stick it out!
Let us know if you need more tips on getting an undergraduate research position by leaving a comment below. Also, tell us if and how you got one.