How to get a research assistant position if you are a high school or undergraduate student?
In times of increasingly competitive college admissions, having good grades and strong test scores are just not enough to set yourself apart from a pool of qualified candidates anymore.
If you’re thinking about undertaking an undergraduate science major, a research assistant position can be an invaluable real world experience. Working in an actual science lab and gaining experience working with real data and participating in authentic experiments lends insight that can’t be found through regular coursework or reading a textbook.
Getting a research assistant position is difficult to obtain and highly competitive, so your experience as a research assistant is also indicative of your dedication, ambition, and ability to succeed at a high level in the field of sciences.
What kind of knowledge do you need to possess in order to become a research assistant?
Where can you get a research assistant position? Most importantly, how can you get a research assistant position?
What kind of job should you do?
Finding a job or internship in high school is not easy. Any extra work brings more responsibility, and at this point, you need to understand yourself and how much responsibility you can take on.
A job can provide financial benefits, showcase your multi-tasking ability, and show your dedication to the field. But if doing so comes at the expense of your grades, existing commitments, or relationships with friends and family, it may ultimately not be good choice for you.
This kind of work typically requires a lot of time commitment. Although you may be able to limit your weekly hours to as few as five, you typically won’t be able to get a position that lasts for fewer than six weeks, and many programs that are shorter in duration require substantially more hours per week.
What is a research assistant?
Research assistants are low-level laboratory assistants whose main tasks are determined by the current stage of projects and laboratory equipment. Research assistants have low salaries and even unpaid internships.
Some scientists may place assistants on chores such as public health management and electronic data entry. If you are responsible for such tasks, you can negotiate with your employer to get a bit of allowance.
Some researchers allow their assistants to participate in project design and specific experimental operations, and even personally take the time to guide you through the experiments. In this type of situation, you will be exposed to the process of the experimental project and specific experimental operations, which will greatly facilitate your subsequent research on the project.
Another alternative is to find a research assistant position outside of a formal program. However, these positions are difficult to find and lack organization or stability, so you need to be clear about your thoughts and determine whether the job of this position is in line with your expectations in advance.
Formal and informal research assistant position program
There are many resources to consider when looking for a research assistant position. Before you start your search, you need to determine the type of research assistant you are interested in. Based on existing positions, they are classified as follows:
- Formal Research Assistant Program
If you are interested in a complete project and you have time to participate in the project as it progresses, you can consider a formal research assistant project. There are existing schools with such positions, such as the MIT Institute of Science and Stanford University‘s Office of Science Extension Programs, and the MIT Research Institute recruits 70 student assistants each year.
If your home is near a university or research center, it’s even better. For example, most of the students of Princeton’s laboratory learning program are from central New Jersey. They meet in the summer and work for about seven weeks every Friday. They participate in scientific research projects and can not only learn new skills in experimental projects, but it’s also a great way to meet a group of like-minded friends.
- Informal Research Assistant Positions
If you are not interested in or are not able to participate in a formal research assistant program, you can still find research assistant positions, but the process will involve a lot more initiative on your part. It won’t be as simple as filling out an online application.
The easiest way to find this position is to build relationships. Seeking help from people around you and seeing if they know the right contact in your local university or science lab can point you in the right direction. A personal connection does not necessarily give you an offer, but at least it allows you to recognize the industry’s biggest players and exchange opportunities to discover possible opportunities.
How can I find a research assistant position?
- Check with your university or college: Many academic institutions offer research assistant positions for undergraduate or graduate students. You can check with your department or faculty to see if there are any openings.
- Look for job postings online: Research assistant positions are frequently advertised on websites like Indeed, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn.
- Check with research organizations: Many research organizations, such as think tanks and non-profit organizations, hire research assistants. You can check their websites or job boards for openings.
- Network with researchers in your field: Attend conferences or events in your field of interest and network with researchers. They might be aware of openings or know someone who can put you in touch with one.
- Contact professors or researchers directly: If there are particular researchers or professors whose work you are interested in, reach out to them directly to inquire about research assistant positions.
Research assistant position from Imperial College London
Get a research assistant position at Imperial College London in a variety of disciplines, including engineering, the natural sciences, medicine, business, and the humanities.
- Assisting laboratory research projects as a research assistant by carrying out experiments, managing data, and analyzing data.
- Helping with research projects, including literature reviews, data gathering, analysis, and reporting, as a project research assistant.
- Assisting with course planning, grading, and research projects as a teaching and research assistant will support both teaching and research activities.
- Graduate research assistants help with research projects that are a part of graduate degree programs; these projects frequently involve data gathering, analysis, and presentation.
When applying for a position, you must have a resume. This resume should include your work experience, grade points, previous summer project experience, school awards and various skills you have, and of course, your basic information. Remember to tailor your application to the specific position you are applying for and highlight your relevant skills and experience.
Remember, the search process is lengthy and can seem difficult at first, but the experience of a research assistant is invaluable. It provides practical experience and insights into future jobs and also adds as an additional benefit to your college application.
Strive to improve yourself, increase your practical experience, and broaden your experience!
Next, you may be interested in our Mechanical Engineering student who enrolled in a research competition with the work he completed from our mentorship program.