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Q & A: Building Research Experience

Q & A: Building research experience

Here’s a question that I received recently:

I love this interview. Question, as a ph.d student, what advice do you have for those who are trying to work in research while in school?

I’m assuming that this question is from a student (undergraduate perhaps, or PhD student – or does the question come from someone assuming that I am the PhD student giving advice to a younger student?) who wants to build research experience.

There’s two parts to my answer here.

  1. Building research experience as a student. When you are a student who is interested in research, and want to get more involved in research before committing to a graduate degree, you have several options to build research experience. You can look for a research-oriented bachelor thesis project, or if that is not common at your university, you can talk to the professor of your favorite class to inquire if they have openings for a research internship, or if you could assist with lab tasks on a voluntary basis.
  2. Building broader research skills. If you are thinking about transitioning out of academia but into R&D, you may want to broaden your research skills so that you have a wider toolbox to pull from. In this case, explore the characteristics companies of your interest look for, and see how you can develop these skills. Can you apply them in your research? Can you take a course to learn new skills? You can also talk to recently graduated PhDs to see which research skills they wish they’d learned in graduate school.

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