Finding a Research Position as a Gaucho

A question that has probably been asked by many students, particularly undergraduate students, is “how do I find a research position?” The process of finding a lab position itself contains many important steps that identify and help you make sure the lab you are about to join matches you interests and even personalities. On the other hand, mindlessly joining a lab without considering what you really want as well as what the lab offers can really waste not only your time but also the time of the people from the lab.

The first step in this process, even before looking for potential labs, is to make sure that you know what research is about and it is something you are interested in doing. Sometimes when a person is asked why he/she wants to do research, the answer would surprisingly be, “oh, I don’t know, my friends are doing it.” Or even, “cuz’ it will look good on my resume.” This sometimes indicates that the person does not know what he/she is getting himself/herself into. Even if the person can successfully obtain a lab position at the end, chances are he/she would not be too happy about his/her time in the lab. On the other hand, it can be very rewarding if a person knows what he/she wants and successfully finds a lab that suits his/her interests and personalities. This, of course, requires some time, but the reward is very worth the effort, based on many researchers’ experience.

Next, once you find out research is something you would want to spend time on, whether it is because you have talked to researchers or if you have had certain background or reasons, the next thing is to identify your interests and connect with faculties that are doing the research you are interested about. This can be done either through looking up the professors’ websites or discussing the research topics with the professors directly. Oftentimes talking to the professors directly can be more helpful because of a couple reasons. One is because the website might not always reflect the most up-to-date, accurate information. In fact, if you even want to start your own independent project, talking to the professor is always more useful. Another reason is that even the website might be able to offer a lot of information, having a direct communication with the professor might be more helpful since there are many things that online information cannot offer. For example, what if you find out you actually don’t enjoy having chats with this particular professor after all? However, this is also another reason why you should talk to the professors even if you don’t feel like it. Sometimes you might end up liking the professor so much that you change your mind

There are still many things that can be discussed about when it comes to finding yourself a lab position. However, I think the most important thing is to do what you love. If you don’t like something, don’t do it (even if all of your friends are doing it). Being persistent is also crucial (but not overly persistent – you don’t want to find yourself making enemies with professors.) Lastly, let your passion guide you and you will enjoy whatever it is that you are doing.