How do you go about finding research on your own as it is quite confusing to me. I know there are links to the hospital and you email many people to get a response, but how does research actually work. Do you pick your own hours as many schedules are different if you get invited for an interview and if you cant accommodate you cant get hired? Will you always be cleaning dishes at the start and how do you get to do more interactive duties? If you join a lab your junior year, is it more likely to get denied because you haven’t started off in that lab as early as possible?…. To go off these I wanted to find a summer research position and was wondering if it is too late and/or some projects are still available due to the pandemic?
The first step I would suggest taking is figure out what kind of research you would be interested in whether that be a chemistry research lab, a lab that focuses on animal research, a social science research lab, or a clinical research lab. You can find descriptions of the different types of labs in our research areas and topics blog. This will help you narrow down your focus while trying to find labs to email. Then, like you already mentioned, you should email several labs expressing your interest. Look at our first research blog post if you want an email template to apply for a lab position and to explore other ways you can go about finding research like UROP if you are a freshman or sophomore. Even if you are not a freshman or sophomore, you are not any less valuable to a research lab! In other words, just because you may be a Junior or Senior does not mean a research lab will not hire you. In my lab, there are new research mentees that are Juniors and Seniors that have not had any experience starting all the time!
During the interviews I had for research, they always asked me what days I could come in to work and for how many hours at a time. Once I received a position in a lab, they were always accommodating to my varying schedule each semester. They know that you are an undergrad and cannot come in at any time because of your class schedule.
Once you are in a lab, your mentor will most likely start off by teaching you the basic procedures and skills needed like pipetting for example. As with any other job/position, if you feel like you can handle more responsibility once you have mastered your other tasks, always go to your mentor to ask to learn something new!
Lastly, if you are interested in doing research this summer, I would start by emailing PI’s in April and state that you would be interested in working there over the summer. A rough timeline of when you should email research labs can be found here. However, because of COVID-19, a lot is up in the air right now. Currently, a lot of labs on campus are on a “ramp down” protocol with only essential employees going in. There also is not a specific deadline as to when this is going to end. Therefore, it may be harder to get an interview set up for the summer because of this uncertainty. I would include in your emails when you reach out that you understand that the lab may not be open in the summer, but if they have any positions available for undergrads and the lab will be up and operating at that time, that you are interested in working there! I hope this was helpful and if you have any other questions, feel free to use our chat feature on this website available from 6-10 PM Sunday through Wednesday.
Best wishes, Brooke, Finance Manager/Alumni