how to go about getting your first research experience

<p>i'm a rising sophomore at the university of michigan (i guess that could be obvious), and i'm a declared materials science engineering major. i really want to get into research soon so i can maybe have an internship by next summer, or at least stay up in the college town and be doing something more productive. i also am genuinely really interested in what i want to do, despite the fact i have yet to take a class on it yet..</p>

<p>so how do i get into research? i just want to help out in a lab and get experience. it just seems like a scary, daunting task. people say to just contact a professor but i wouldn't know what to say. i don't even know if i have time first semester due to 17 credits + a job, would it be weird to not start something until second semester? because the only day i'm free before 5 during the week is friday... i am really busy in the fall :(</p>

<p>my advisor told me if i wanted to, i could MAYBE do research for credit 2nd semester, but he didn't seem like it was that big of a deal for me to get involved in that kind of stuff this early. he just thought since i'm doing fairly well in my classes and seem interested i could get a head start.</p>

<p>i guess just tell me your experiences of how you got involved in that sort of stuff.</p>

<p>You must lounge around a professors office until he/she gets a golden exclamation point above his/her head. You then talk to the professor, and will be given a task (such as slaying a dragon, finding the lost orb of maldava etc). After you complete the task, the professor will give you the option of choosing one of several boons. Research oppertunity is one of the boons you can select, although I highley reccomend taking the mithril dagger instead because its very useful for slaying the Acid Ogre near the dorms, witch you will need to do later.</p>

<p>It usually isn't as hard as SpacePope implied. Usually the dragon is no more than a large lizard.</p>

<p>Really, you won't be able to do research while you also hold down a job, plain and simple. The nice things about research positions, though, is that they pay. If you are truly interested in research, I would go about it assuming you have the same amount of time free as if you didn't have your job. If you get a position, it will probably pay you $8 to $9 per hour (based on various reports I have heard and seen at various schools). I know when I was an undergrad I made somewhere around $9 an hour doing research at UIUC, and here at TAMU, the undergrads are making a similar amount.</p>

<p>If you want the position, though, find professors that are researching things you are interested in and email them. Introduce yourself, tell them your interests briefly and say you like their research and then politely ask if they have any undergraduate research positions available in their lab. It would even be a good idea to say something like "even if you don't, I would love the chance to meet up and talk about your research for a few minutes sometime, as I am genuinely interested." That is probably the best way to go about it. If it is a professor you have had for a class before, that is an added bonus, but from what you have said it doesn't sound like you have had any of the professors yet.</p>

<p>You may have a little difficulty finding positions at first solely based on the fact that you don't have much school under your belt, but getting your foot in the door can't hurt. If your grades are good (as you claim) then at the very worst they will probably say either "I don't have anything open right now but I will let you know" or "talk to me next semester after you have taken ________." Both of those outcomes are fairly positive.</p>

<p>If you do get a position, you will definitely have to think about quitting that job, but the pay at the research position should help offset the lack of a job.</p>

<p>Hope this helped.</p>

<p>At PSU, most research positions only pay during the summer while in the fall/spring you get credit for it which can usually count towards electives. Like bonehead said, find a professor who is doing research you are interested in and email them or go to their office. </p>

<p>My best advice in snagging a position tho is to do your research on their research. Professors want people who are just as excited about their work as they are. Usually your dept.'s website has info on faculty research. You can usually go on your school's library site and access a website called Web of Knowledge or Web of Science, which provides unlimited access to any academic/scientific papers published. Find one by the professor you want and read/browse through it, paying attention to the introductions, conclusions and abstracts. Don't worry if you barely understand any of it, you are not expected to. Just become familiar with their work. This will set you aside from the students who are just looking for experience. Know that when a professor takes on an undergrad in their lab they are putting an investment in you (potential name on published papers, LOR, Networking hookups) so they want someone who is enthusiastic about learning what is going on in their lab. Be polite, and if you are really interested in that research your sincerity will show.</p>

<p>If you really don't know what to say, heres how I basically approached my PI: went to his office, and introduced myself, "Hi my name is ___ am I sophmore in ___ I read you're paper on ___ and I know you work with ___. I am really interested in blah blah blah and was wondering if there were any open undergraduate positions in your lab." And from there the rest is just conversation about what they do, their current projects, the kinds of work undergrads do, etc. In my and most of my friends' experience, going to see the professor in person is much more effective than an email.</p>

<p>My advice with your job, unless you really need the money and going to grad school is not a goal of yours, I would ditch it over experience in your field. Research experience is a must if a graduate degree is in your future.</p>

<p>I agree with pretty much everything in this thread. Let me say that getting research experience is tough but becomes easier as you complete more years of college. At least at my school, the engineering department did not have much undergrad research going on compared to, say, the science department. And if you want to get a job right after your B.S. research might not be as important as if you were going to grad school.</p>

<p>You need to have a lot of time for research. I would recommend no more than 14 hours and no job. The reason is, you need to have time to to repeat experiments that fail, pursue interesting lines of inquiry, and do background reading on the subject. You need to have enough time to immerse yourself and "get lost" in the subject matter and work on the project independently with little concern for time.</p>

<p>Look at all the profs in your dept. and see which ones are doing research that interests you. Then, go read a few of their latest papers to get a feel for what they are doing. This is important; talking to a prof specifically about his research shows your interest in a way that just saying "I want research!" won't.</p>