10 Reasons Why Everyone Should Complete Undergraduate Research

Last Tuesday, I went to an informative conference session at the Mechanical Engineering Building in Colegio about the partaking of research opportunities throughout our undergraduate careers. As a third year Psychology major, with definite plans to pursue graduate studies, I have focused the past few years in building my academic portfolio, getting involved in a wide range of extracurricular activities, and looking for internships and research experiences.

But maybe research isn't something to be pursued just by someone who aspires to enter into grad school. Let's face it: our generation is faced with the most competitive professional environment in history. Maybe research is the perfect opportunity to gain a competitive edge, not just in grad school applications, but also in résumés for different positions in that workfield.  Here are 10 reasons why everyone should consider participating in research opportunities as an undergraduate student:

1. It will give you a hands-on experience for solving real world problems

What better way to gain real experience in your field than to partake in a research opportunity where you will have to address specific issues that will come later in your career?


2. It gives you a competitive edge in the work force

Research requires creativity and troubleshooting which are consequently some of the most important qualities employers look for in future hires.


3. For those applying to grad school, research gives your academic portfolio a competitive edge

Grad school is research. If you already have experience in this area, the school you apply to will know you are clearly prepared for furthering your academic career into masters or doctorate.


4. Your mentors in the project will make excellent resources for stellar recommendation letters.

In a research internship you spend a lot of time with your peers and mentors. Having observed the way you solve problems creatively gives them the tools to write an incredible recommendation letter.


5. You will meet new people and make friends who will also be able to advise you in your career

These projects are usually open to students from other universities which means you will likely meet a bunch of new people and bond during the research exercises you are all trying to solve together. Among those working with you, there will surely be other grad students in your field which will have more than enough experience to advise you about your career.

6. You will have the opportunity to network with people on your field that may result in an amazing job position

In a research environment you may have to prepare yourself to present your project at a conference or even be co-author of a publication. All of these things open you up to meeting people that may be the key to incredible opportunities in the future.


7. You will gain a better understanding about what you actually want to do with your career.

There is no better way to know if you would actually enjoy doing something than to try it out first. Research puts you in a direct contact with the work and real world challenges of your field.


8. The experience will be unforgettable.

Like anything else in life, the things you do and learn will stay with you forever.

9. You can get paid!

A lot of these opportunities include stipends or weekly salaries and may even include housing and meals. Be sure to do a thorough research of the openings available so you can know of the benefits that may come from participating in each program.


10. You will learn a lot and have fun doing it!

The amount of things you learn will be invaluable and social outings with your peers and mentors are part of the research experience. You are sure to have a blast with the people you bond with in the lab.