Participating in research as an undergraduate student is an opportunity that should not be missed. Research is conducted in every field of study - from the sciences and engineering to the humanities and social sciences. Participating in a research experience gives you the chance to see how research is conducted, see what it means to your field of study and to the broader goal of advancing knowledge. It is also important to see if research interests you. If it does, it opens another spectrum of careers for you. If it doesn't seem like a career path, you will undoubtedly acquire additional skills due to the discipline required of the experience.
Start early. Freshmen can begin to think about this and take action. To learn more about research opportunities at UB review the information found on the Center for Undergraduate Research & Creative Activities (CURCA) website. Workshops and brown bag lunches are offered each semester on getting involved in research at UB. To learn more about research activity at UB read UB Research News on-line.
Younger students who begin research are valuable to faculty as they may be able to commit several years of work. Faculty benefit because they do not have to re-train new students. Do not assume you are not capable even though you are just beginning your studies. Everyone has to begin somewhere.
Talk to your professors and advisors - ask them about their interests and how they got started. Take advantage of faculty office hours. Meet with your advisor. Advisors can often provide fruitful leads to faculty in and outside of their departments.
Be persistent. Some professors may be looking for specific skills, may have committed to other students, or may be away for a semester or more. Keep in touch and keep trying.
Be visible. Do not assume these opportunities will come to you. However, if you make it a point to attend department functions like club meetings, lectures, presentations, and poster sessions you will get leads and get noticed.
Don't turn down opportunities which come your way. One that is not too exciting may lead to another with greater potential. Remember that these opportunities do not always have to be narrowly career related. Research work teaches basic organizational, writing, critical thinking, and presentation skills that apply to all endeavors and future careers.
Last updated: April 23, 2013 10:50 am EST