Me vs Big New Research

Hi again everyone! I am back with another blog post and this time around I get to speak about my experiences on beginning my project. My start was a bit unconventional when it started in Summer 2022. I was gearing up for the summer after concluding my first year at Pitt and I desperately searched for different programs and labs that I could possibly start in. It was cold email after cold email and every turn left me at a dead end. Eventually I was waiting to hear back from programs I had applied to, but even those lead to rejections. The only result I was then waiting for was the Summer Undergraduate Research Program through Pitt. I guess you can infer how it turned out because I am still working in the very lab I was put in for the summer!

Since I lacked any research background, I had to be taught from scratch and I am very grateful to my lab technician Minali Tare who had to show me the ropes during my first few weeks in the lab. I did not have a strong direction in the research I wanted to do, so when I went looking I spread as wide a net as possible in hopes to actually start building skills. I am glad where I ended up because there were many undergraduates in the lab who could offer guidance when I was still wobbling on my two feet. I was able to also find friends outside of my lab with those who were in my program. Many of them were upperclassmen who had previous experiences in their labs which made it easy to approach them with general questions like how to make a PowerPoint to properly convey lab findings. All in all, I was able to dip my feet into research in a space safe and I hope that I can do that in the future when I am an upperclassmen. Research gave me an outlet to practice communication skills both in the scientific sense and the human sense. I learned invaluable lessons as I figured out how to navigate so many new experiences such as staying grounded and focused on a goal despite a constantly changing environment.

My biggest piece of advice for those starting to look for research is to do just that. Start looking! It definitely is scary especially if you have never cold emailed before. The more you put yourself out there, the more likely you are to land something amazing. Emailing people without expecting a response becomes a lot easier with practice. Moreover, do not let the requirements scare you. Even if you do not think you are qualified, you can still apply. It is their job to say if you are qualified or not to work there. At least put your name on the radar and maybe they will think of you for another opportunity.

Leave a Reply