undergrad-admin's blog

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 Lab Manager'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?

11
Jul

Hey, Who Moved My Stuff?

— from the Researcher's bench

Recently, we received a request for help (edited here for brevity):

Thanks for all your great posts. As an undergrad in the lab, I'd like to know what your advice would be if your materials go missing. No one else in my lab uses it, and I have never used it myself. I have spoken to my coworkers to ask if they know anything about it, but no one has responded. I was just wondering if you had any tips regarding safeguarding one's materials in a lab? I feel surprised and a bit angry that somebody would move something not belonging to them in a lab.

23
Apr

How to Interview Your Interviewer

— from the PI’s desk

To make the most of your interview for an undergrad research position, you need to ask the right questions to determine if the project is right for you. That might sound easy (and obvious), but if you haven’t held a research position how do you know what questions will give you the most meaningful information?

01
Apr

The One Letter to Rule Them All

— from the PI’s desk

Why this letter matters so much

As an undergrad, one of the reasons you devoted so much time to a research experience was to earn an epic letter of recommendation--one that speaks to your strengths, resilience, character, self-reliance, cultural competencies, ability to solve problems, and contribute to a group effort.

This letter will be a comprehensive endorsement of your graduate, medical, or preprofessional school application complete with specific examples that influenced your PI's opinion. This one letter has the potential to outweigh all other letters from a professor whose class you attended, or from someone who oversaw a volunteer program you participated in for a semester.

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