Read about CCD Student Associate Morgan Bergthold ’20 and her experience finding research opportunities.
If you feel as though you may be blending in to the crowd of applicants for employment or grad school, research experience can differentiate you from all the other qualified candidates both by rounding out your resume and giving you a better understanding of which fields most interest you. Additionally, spending time in a lab, in front of a computer, or wherever your project may take you can help you understand how happy you would be pursuing a career in that environment.
When you want to find a research project, your first step should be to talk to several professors in the department you are interested in and ask about what they are currently working on. Even if none of them are exploring topics you find interesting, they will know who in their department is conducting research that may interest you. Once you locate a professor whose research aligns with your interests together you can determine the details of the project you will work on.
In addition to conducting research at Davidson you can apply to programs at other schools or in industry. Most people who do research at a school other than their home institutions do so through a Research Experience for Undergraduate (REU) program, which you can apply for in the fall. REUs are often geared toward students who are considering grad school, so they are a great way to get a feel for the environment at an institution you may want to apply to later. Furthermore, many of these programs offer housing in addition to your stipend so they are an easy way to experience living in a new city—you probably won’t need to search for housing. The easiest way to look through the available REU programs is examining the list on the National Science Foundation’s website. However, if you aren’t interested in grad school you may want to look for an internship in industry. Spending a summer working in industry will offer you a taste of a job path you think you may like and you won’t need to make any long-term commitment to that field. There’s a huge variety of these programs available so there will be one that fits your interests perfectly—Handshake is an excellent resource for finding them.