So I graduated college with an overall 3.24 GPA (interestingly, they do not calculate major GPA though I'm sure I can figure it out myself). I went to a respected undergraduate institution (Not ivy league, but is seen as highly rigorous). I have roughly a summer's worth of research experience in chemical biology at a university in Boston as well as a year's worth of biophysical chemistry research at my school. I have recently landed a job in a biotech company manufacturing active pharmaceutical ingredients and have came into contact with a professor at UNH about volunteering part time to do research. I was thinking of doing this for solid 2-3 years maybe more (My job has the opportunity to work in Singapore for a year and I definitely want to take advantage of that if given the opportunity) before applying to any PhD programs. I was going to wait on the GREs until I had a better idea when I was applying.
My passion is research and my long term career goal is to hopefully become a principal investigator and run my own research lab, particularly studying diseases. This is why I want to enter a PhD program in the biomedical sciences. I was not particularly the greatest student freshmen year as college was a huge adjustment for me which explains my "alright" GPA. But I've been reading a lot of forums of people saying they got into places like Georgetown with 2.8 which makes me hopeful.
I confident enough that I could get into a PhD program. However, I'm interested in going into one of the top tier schools (Like Georgetown, Berkeley, Stanford, Tufts, etc.) because of their vast connections and numerous career opportunities.
I am also a first generation college Latino immigrant, which I'll shamelessly use that card (Have to play to advantages). Obviously, I won't base my application just on that.
So assuming I get great GRE scores, would my situation and experience make me a competitive applicant? Or am I better off applying for a Masters, kill it, and then go for PhD programs? I would prefer PhD directly since financially speaking, its the better option (Since you get paid to do your research under a PI).