How do you get a research assistant position in high school?
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.
Research assistant positions are extremely 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 I need to possess in order to become a research assistant?
Where can I find such a position?
What kind of job should I 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.
Where can I find a research assistant position?
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.
Keep in mind that if a university or laboratory offers a formal research assistant program, you can’t bypass the application process and choose research positions in other ways, a company’s process that you should respect regardless of your occupation.
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, 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!