Many summer research opportunities are highly competitive and have early deadlines – some as early as the fall semester (especially those funded by the government, since background checks are involved). Others have requirements that take time to prepare – such as written personal essays, a copy of your transcripts, and letters of recommendation written by faculty. Research experiences may also require a CV (or vitae), which is a longer form of a resume, something many students are not familiar with and can get help with writing at the Center of Career Development, as well as with a trusted faculty member.
By early September it’s a good idea to make an appointment with the Center for Career Development to talk with a career advisor and make a plan for your search. Following are five other tips to help you get started:
1.) Update your resume, and prepare a CV. This is extremely important, since in most cases you will be required to submit either document for application. (The career advisors in the Center for Career Development can help with this.)
2.) Begin in advance to review sites offering research opportunities – the earlier, the better. This gives you more time to prepare. (Look at organizational sites, other college’s department sites, and national institutes, to get started.)
3.) Utilize the information on research opportunities located on the website of the Center for Career Development. There are listings of research opportunities listed in the Students section; these are kept updated.
5.) Check with faculty regarding research opportunities they are aware of, and let them know of your interests. Many faculty stay connected with professors from other institutions who have received grants to conduct research in all areas of study, and who are seeking lab assistants.
It is wise to apply for more than one research opportunity, and to apply as you find them – the earlier, the better. Keep in mind, too, that it takes time for faculty members to write letters of recommendation since they are probably writing letters for others at the same time. Allow them a three-week period to do so, which means you will need to plan in advance.
In general, the fall semester is an overall good time to begin your search for research opportunities. A career advisor in the Center of Career Development can assist you with this process and help you with any questions you have.