undergrad-admin's blog

09
Oct

Choose Your Research Position Wisely

—from the PI's desk

Why passion for a research position will help you get an interview, and faking passion will hurt your chances

Each semester, I post an advertisement for the open undergrad research positions in my lab. The ad includes a description of the project, methods my lab uses, and overall objectives of my lab's research focus. Yet, each semester, several undergrads with interests completely unrelated to my research program apply for a position in my lab.

27
Sep

I'm Published. Now What?

—from the PI's desk

We received an inquiry from an undergrad about how to use their co-authorship on applications (edited here for brevity and to maintain anonymity):

I have been working on research projects for a year now. Just this summer I have received a co-authorship on a study. I was wondering, how do I record this information or something along those lines to be used for graduate school applications?

Dear Undergrad In The Lab,

Congratulations on your publication!

21
Sep

How You Doin'?

— from the Researcher's bench

One of the reassuring things about taking an undergraduate lab course is knowing exactly what you need to do to earn the letter grade you want. For most instructional labs, you can calculate your grade at anytime to know whether or not you’re excelling, and opt for the extra credit assignments if needed.

05
Sep

I Need a Reference Letter in Two Years. Should I Ask Now?

—from the PI's desk

We received a request for help from a former undergrad in the lab (edited here for brevity and to maintain anonymity):

Hi Undergrad in the Lab, I have a question for you. I recently finished a 4 month summer research project. I understand the importance of references and I was thinking of asking my supervisor for a reference for professional school but I'm planning on applying in 2-3 years. Should I be asking for a reference letter now while they still remember me or is that a bad idea?

—from the PI’s Desk

Early in my career, a tenured professor told me, "If you sneeze, and it's a good sneeze, keep track of it." At the time I doubted it would matter but I've been forever grateful that I followed his advice.

Writing down noteworthy (and seemingly insignificant) accomplishments, skills, and activities while the details are fresh in your mind can make all the difference when you need to update a Resume or CV for a scholarship, volunteer, job, or program application.

— from the Researcher's bench and PI's desk

Why we wrote a book on finding an undergrad research position:

Whether you’re premed, pregrad, preprofessional, undecided, or headed for the job market after graduation, undergraduate research can help you define your career path and prepare for it. But if an undergraduate research experience is so important (and it is), and has so many potential benefits (which it does), why it is so difficult to find a research position?

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