- Why Should I Research?
- Identifying Interests
- Identifying a Mentor
- Resumé Building
- Applying, Emailing, Meeting
- Being a Good Research Assistant
- Grant Writing
Why Should I Research?
Whether you’re considering graduate school, any sort of pre-professional program, or even a totally different line of work, spending time as a research assistant can be extremely valuable. Here are a few reasons why:
Learn About Your Interests
Spending a semester or summer as a research assistant will help clarify your interests. If you found your dream field, you will know right away. If research is not for you, you’ve learned something almost as valuable.
Work as a Team
Working with a research group involves significant teamwork and collaboration. Together with your Principal Investigator and the other members of the research team (other RAs, graduate students, post-docs), you will work to solve tough problems.
This sort of team environment exists in all fields and professions. You will learn how to find your role in a team setting and better understand your unique skills, making you more marketable as a researcher or as an employee.
At the same time, the research environment offers plenty of opportunity to work on your own and grow as an individual problem solver.
Depending on your time commitment and the resources available, you may be able to choose your own project or direction.
Build Your CV / Resumé
As you seek future positions, you will always need to speak to your past experiences. Hard work as a research assistant can round out your resumé, help you succeed in an interview and prove that you are a worthy candidate.
If your work ends in a publication or presentation, then you can showcase these feats as well.
Build Your Mentor Network
To succeed in any field, you need strong mentors that will support you.
Successful work under a professor will help solidify a letter-writer when it comes time to submit recommendations. Perhaps more importantly, you will form a relationship with an individual that can advise you for years to come on broad topics from academic goals to the employment process.