A great move you can make to improve your career opportunities in Psychology is to get involved in research. If you are a college student this is pretty painless because there is research being conducted all over campus. Even if you are not in college, there are research opportunities for those not in college. Moreover, some researchers prefer having a non-student work in their lab. Keep in mind with regard to research participation that the research you conduct does not have to match perfectly with your career plans. What is important is that your participation allows you to gain experience and to show that you are motivated for a career in Psychology.
There are at least five advantages for obtaining research experience:
1) You will have the chance to be part of exciting discoveries and to learn new ideas. Working with a researcher allows you to learn the “nuts and bolts” of research.
2) By working in a lab you will be a step ahead of others in terms of career and academic preparedness.
3) You will help build a professional network for your field of interest.
4) It is often the case that your work will lead to having your name on a conference presentation or journal publication.
5) You will be able to secure a a letter of recommendation from your mentor.
It is pretty easy to get involved with research. You can just check the Internet to see what research is being conducted on your campus or near where you live. Then, contact the researcher you want to work with and ask if they are offering positions in their lab. Meet with the researcher to talk about working in the lab. Two quick pieces of advice are (1) consider getting “dressed-up” just a bit at this first meeting, and (2) be ready to talk and to ask questions (e.g., check out something the researcher has written). Finally, determine how you can work in the lab--volunteer, credit hours, or paid.
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