Why does it seem that being successful at school means employers will be lining up at our doors to hire us when we graduate? It’s not true! If we have no job experience, we are at the bottom of the hiring pool behind candidates who have already been part of the work force for several years. Retrospectively, if I had worked hard at finding unpaid or even paid experience in my field, instead of just focusing on excelling in the classroom during my studies, I feel as if I would have been better equipped for the job search now. (more…)
Imagine your audience is an angst-ridden teenager. They like to wear black eyeliner, give you attitude and remain both cool and aloof. They read your paper and say, “So what?” (probably just to antagonize you). While they might grow-out of this phase, the “So what?” of your writing may never change.
Unless you work at it.
Well another year has passed and the semester has come to an end! Congratulations everyone on making it through another semester. Finals are the worst part of every year, and even if you don’t ace your exam, grades are NOT all that matter. Jobs and grad schools look at your extracurricular activities and work experience. So don’t worry if you didn’t do as well as you wanted to on an exam.
By now I’m sure most of you know that science is not my field of study, therefore I have little to offer in terms of information regarding science related research positions or careers. In an effort to balance out the subject matter of my blog posts, I’ve enlisted the help of a friend who is more than familiar with the field. As a third year Health Sci student at McMaster University who’s been working in a research lab for nearly two years, has taken an MCAT prep course, scored phenomenally on her MCAT and is in the midst of applying to medical school, she’s basically a treasure trove of information. She works in an immunology research lab examining the cellular mechanisms involved in allergy. Recently, I sat down with her and asked her a few questions regarding lab research.
Good news everyone (in sciences and engineering), the NSERC URSA grant applications are making their way around again.
Here’s all the fuzz about that and some ideas on how to beginwith the search.
When I first started at McGill I had no intentions of ever wanting to do anything whatsoever involving research. I always had this mental image (or as psychologists like to say “schema”) of what research involved. Sitting in a lab, in front of a computer, just collecting and inputting data. I never stopped to think of all the other stuff which are involved with doing studies.
It may only be two days before Christmas but at least we made it through the end of the semester! I can’t actually believe how overwhelmed I was at the end, especially during finals week. Balancing my lab, school work, and my job was a lot harder than I imagined but I think I made it through everything well.
Most labs have limited financial and human resources, so it’s hard for them to accommodate and train a complete beginner.
It’s true, professors look for research experiences on your CV, it’s the reason I was turned down at my first interview for a volunteer research position.
So what’s the good news? Here’s how to get started.
So I have blogged about research many times in the past, both about my own experiences in the lab as well ways to get involved in research (see here, http://blogs.mcgill.ca/caps/2014/10/05/getting-into-research/). McGill in general is a very academically oriented and research intensive school so it should not come as a surprise that there are numerous opportunities for students to get involved!
This time of early February is a great time to begin your search for a summer research job. Although entry level research can be tedious at times (you’re often assigned to do repetitive work), they can also be very enjoyable and a fantastic learning experience while earning money. For me personally, I found that most of the biology knowledge that has stuck with me, has been those learned during my hours in the research lab. Lecture information is often forgotten quickly after the final exam and not consolidated into memory because of the lack of hands-on integration.