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Student Research: How To Get the Job

 Written by    June 28, 2017

You may be wondering how to get a job in research after hearing all about what research jobs entail… either from my post Student Research: What to Expect or from your friends at Ohio State. Either way, you are a true science geek who is obviously super eager to join a lab. Congrats! It is usually difficult to start in a lab as a freshman because you don’t have too many classes under your belt. However, labs usually want to have undergrads for as long as possible, so apply as early as you can and don’t get frustrated with the number of “no”s you get. I was rejected from positions probably 40 to 50 times before I was hired by a lab at the end of my freshman year. Here are some simple things to do that should help.

Join small medical or science related clubs or organizations on campus. There is a tough transition between high school and college because a lot of the things on your resume from high school are no longer relevant or important to employers. They want to see things that you are doing right here and now. For anything in medicine, it is important to get lots of volunteering no matter what. I personally joined the red cross club and became a volunteer at Wexner Medical Center. However I also recommend joining MedLife which is a volunteer-based club or volunteering at Riverside Hospital. If you can manage to get some shadowing hours, this would help as well.

Then, put these experiences at the top of your resume. After you have listed your objective and previous schooling and GPA, make a category that states your involvement most directly correlated with undergraduate research. For example, you could title this section “Medical Shadowing and Volunteering” or “Medical Involvement.” This way the PI’s eyes will be directly pulled to that section making you look more qualified than other applicants who may have these items scattered throughout their resume.

Network as much as possibleWhen I joined a sorority, there were many woman who were already involved in research that taught me the ins and outs of how to apply and what people are looking for, which I am sharing with you here. However the best way to hear about openings for undergrads is through people already working in research as they tend to become aware of openings before anyone else. I personally have already helped two of my friends get jobs in the Biomedical Research Tower.

Alright, you found some ways to build your resume and are ready to look for jobs and start applying. There are a couple ways you can go about this. The first is by hearing about openings through the grape vine, as I already mentioned. I know that this is the most difficult way to find a job but it is the most sure of you getting a position. I know this is most difficult for freshman because you don’t know very many people, so here are a few other options for you:

  • Join the “Listserv” through the undergraduate research office. This is one of less helpful ways to apply for research as there are hundreds and hundreds of students who receive these emails and apply for research this way. Therefore it is very competitive already. The jobs that are presented through this avenue also tend to be very specific for who they are looking for and tend to be unpaid research opportunities. Still, every job that is applicable to you is worth applying for. The undergraduate research office also has some other resources for you to use, but many of them are only helpful once you have achieved a research position.
  • I received my job through the Wexner Medical Center website under their student job listings. Most of these jobs are paid and are obviously a little less frequented and therefore easier to get. However I still applied to an armful of these before I was offered an interview. Just keep applying and don’t give up!

Alright, you’ve been asked into an interview… What are they looking for? I have asked multiple researchers what they are looking for from undergraduate research assistants. The biggest response is “I want someone who is coming here to learn.” This is the big thing you want to push when being asked why you are interested in undergraduate research or what made you want to purse a science  field. With the right attitude and amount of drive, a person who wants to learn can be successful anywhere. I also recommend bringing a copy of your calendar highlighting the times that you are willing and able to come in during the week so that your PI has a good idea of how often you can be in the lab. Even just a two and a half hour window is good enough to get you started. I recommend listing at least three times during the week that you are available and then you and your PI can go from there.

I wish you the best of luck on your endeavors! If you have any further questions, please feel free to email me at walker.1792@osu.edu.

Academics, Advice, Author, Internships, Research, Student Life, The Future, Why Ohio State?

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