Undergraduate students are constantly on the prowl for what will give them that extra leg up, whether it be for graduate school or to stand out to an employer. If you're in a STEM, Liberal Arts or any kind of major that offers research that you're interested in, it could give you valuable experiences and connections.
Undergraduate research is one of the most valuable ways students can spend their time if you're for looking something to bolster your academic resume. At UF, luckily, research opportunities are abundant, specialized and interesting. UF is a research university, so the pursuit of knowledge is highly encouraged.
Research is beneficial for certain majors because it adds depth to your skillset. Conducting studies for professors in your field looks great to future employers and improves your ability to perform tasks that might dictate your pay down the line.
In the modern job market, having a clean and impressive resume is expected in most jobs. Interviews are stressful, I get it. Your sweaty palms are warranted. However, the hiring war won’t feel like as much of a battle if you put in the groundwork beforehand, whatever that means for you. With an increasing supply of college graduates, companies have to be more selective. This is where research could be beneficial. Research experience in certain fields is what employers in those fields look for to see if someone is the right fit for a job. The right project could easily land you an interview, sometimes even a job. In addition, connecting with the faculty conducting the research could even lead to relevant references, which are always welcome.
Jobs are also becoming more demanding. In English, my major, I’m basically saying good, high-paying jobs can be hard to come by. If you want the second house in the Hamptons, you have to have skills that are transferable in the job atmosphere. You need experience and training to stand apart and excel in whichever line of work you go into, maybe helping to conduct research on the brain if you want to be a physiologist or simply polling for an advertising class.
So, does this research stuff have your mouth watering? Understandable. Here’s how to get in on the action.
You might be better suited for some projects over others. If math isn’t your forte, but you’re the next Hemingway, do some literary research. If you don’t know where to put a comma, maybe try your hand at some of the "sciencey" stuff. Knowing what you’re capable of will help you whittle down the field of options when it comes to research, if that's what you're looking for.
Next, and most importantly, be persistent. The best things in life take work. I mean, where would we be if The Avengers gave up after Thanos secured the dub in “Infinity War.” We would all be a couple of dollars richer in April, but there would be an Infinity Gauntlet sized hole in our hearts. Instead, The Avengers don’t quit. Be like The Avengers. If you want to do research, and by now you should, then go do it. People value feeling valued, and if you show persistence and dedication when pursuing a research opportunity the odds will often fall in your favor.
Research opportunities for undergraduates may be hard to come by, but they can help change the scope of a person’s career. Research isn't going to be beneficial for everyone, but it's an option for those of us out there who are looking to boost our academic record. At UF we’re incredibly lucky. If you want to be a part of a research project, go for it.
Kyle Cunningham is a UF English freshman. His column appears on Mondays.