Looking for money or units? Practical experience? Relationships with professors? Research is your answer. Conducting undergrad research with a department is a great way to engage academically outside class, meet inspiring professors, and earn some money on the side!
What is research?
Research is the work professors do outside of class on topics of their interest. This can include writing books and articles, building physical or digital products, laboratory work and much more.
What do I do?
You are a Research Assistant (RA)! An RA helps the professor with their work by providing data analysis, writing drafts, finding information or really anything else the professor asks for. Often you work very closely with the professor (especially in smaller departments) so being an RA is basically being a professor’s right hand man!
Why should I do it?
Being an RA is a great way to gain “real-world” experience in a subject you’re interested in. It helps you understand what working in this field is like and equips you with the skills to succeed in it. Research allows you to cultivate a close relationship with a professor–ask questions and learn tips from a seasoned pro!
Why do I need to know professors?
Relationships with professors are important for letters of recommendation and industry connections. Both help you do things like secure future employment and apply to grad school. The RA/professor relationship is perfect for showing your intelligence, work ethic, adaptability and more in a highly visible context. In a lecture of 150 students your professor may not have the time to get to know you but your research professor definitely will!
How do I get a research position?
Just ask! Most professors are conducting research while teaching. Find a class you like or a professor working in your area of interest and shoot them an email. Explain your interest in them/their work and ask if they are currently looking for a research assistant. Professors are highly receptive to this sort of thing and even if they don’t have any current openings will encourage you to follow up at a later date!