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The Best Way to Elevate Your Experience – Get a Research Position

One of the most impressive feats you can accomplish, especially as a younger student (freshman or sophomore), is to secure a position in a research lab at a local university. This is no easy feat. That is what makes it so impressive! It is also something rarely tried for, which means if you have the right pitch it could be an easy sell.


Do the Upfront Work


Spend a good amount of time researching the professors at your local university. Pick a department that you are interested in. If you want to major in microbiology, spend your time researching that department. Universities typically have extensive websites on the research their professors are doing. Look at each of the professors and what they’re working on. Find something that really sparks your interest.


The key to putting together an impressive pitch is to think of ways you can add value to the research team. Maybe you’re super organized or great at Excel. Think of anything that you can do to provide value to the professor and the team. Read all of the papers and information about the research project you’re interested in. This should take you a good amount of time, but if you are able to secure a position, it will be worth it!


Pitch It


Now that you’ve put in the time on your research, you can get pitching. Write a compelling email to get this opportunity. I’ve included a template below, but be sure to make it your own. Spend a good amount of time doing this as well.


Hi Professor Last Name,

My name is Your Name. I’m a high school student at Your High School. Give a quick list of what you’ve been doing that would be relevant (clubs, courses, jobs, outside work). Only include a couple. Add accomplishments you achieved in those relevant activities.

I’ve been a big fan of yours because of information from your research. And I’ve been really interested in your research on information from your research.

I’d really love to work in your lab. I can provide examples of how you can help and add value to the team.

I know this isn’t a conventional request, but I am very serious and would be thrilled to see if there’s a way we can work together. Would it be possible to chat with you for 10-15 minutes over the phone?

I could also meet you in person, but if phone is more convenient, I would love to chat to get your advice.


Your Name

Be sure to make this your own!


What to Do If It Doesn’t Work

Don’t get discouraged if your first pitch doesn’t work. Try again with another professor. If you’re not getting any responses, try the administrative assistants or fellows in lab. If you’re still not having any luck, try some out of the box methods. Ask your parents, teachers, coaches if they have any connections with the local university that could help you make the contact. Use all of the resources available to you.


Action Steps

1. Spend at least 10 hours researching a local professor and his/her research.

2. Contact that professor using my email template.

3. Let me know how it goes! Email or comment.


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