5 Strategies for Gaining Research Experience

What do you imagine when you think of “research”? You might initially visualize laboratories, chemicals and test tubes, or scientists in lab coats. While this is correct, research encompasses so much more than physical experiments and is definitely not limited to the physical/life sciences. Nearly every industry has a sector dedicated to R&D (Research and Development), where experts come together to develop innovative new technology and services to advance their field. The idea of research may seem daunting but it doesn’t have to be! There are many opportunities to gain research experience, from on-campus research to summer research programs, here are 5 strategies for gaining research experience:

  1. Explore campus and career-center resources.

As a premier research institution, Binghamton University has a strong emphasis on research and offers a plethora of opportunities for students in a wide variety of subjects. Professors, graduate students, and other institutions are constantly looking for students to assist in their research and will promote their open positions through a variety of departments such as advising offices, academic listservs, and career-centers. To get you started on your search for research opportunities, the Fleishman Center has compiled a variety of opportunities into this research-focused resource!

2. Stay updated on emails from academic listservs.

As mentioned previously, labs often promote their research positions through a variety of departments. Whether you are a psychology major or an engineering major, your designated listservs will regularly send out emails with opportunities ranging from club events to research position openings. Although it is important to stay updated on emails throughout the semester, as new research positions can open at any time, labs typically begin looking for new students at the end of the Spring semester to fill empty spots left by graduating students. As these emails are usually sent to several listservs with hundreds of students, make sure to express your interest as early as you can!

3. Connect with professors/professionals who are conducting research.

Another way to gain research experience is to connect with professors or professionals who are conducting research in a specific area that interests you. If you are taking a class that is taught by a professor you would like to do research for, you can get in touch with them simply by emailing or attending their office hours. If you are contacting a professional you have no prior connection with, you can do so through email or LinkedIn. Prior to connecting with any researcher, it is recommended that you obtain some background information on their research, ensure you are interested in their specific research, and remain professional at all times. Keep in mind that these individuals might not have open positions in their lab at the time of your request. By maintaining a relationship with them, however, you might be notified when a position does become available.

4. Follow companies you are interested in doing research for.

If there is a specific company you are interested in conducting research for, keeping up with their social media or public newsletters is a great way to stay updated on research or internship opportunities. You can also keep track of research opportunities through regularly checking their website or connecting with company recruiters on LinkedIn. Furthermore, you can gain exposure to companies and research opportunities through attending the Fleishman Center’s Job and Internship Fairs, which are held every semester!

5. Conduct your own research.

Lastly, if you find yourself struggling to find research opportunities that truly interest you, consider conducting your own research! There are many on-campus resources available to help students design and execute their own research experiments. These resources can be accessed through the External Scholarships and Undergraduate Research Center. Be sure to check out this research-focused resource for more information on how you can get in contact with the External Scholarships and Undergraduate Research Center!

By Jenny Li
Jenny Li Senior Peer Consultant