Not a Typical Internship

By: Kirsi

The word “Internship” may invoke an image of a flustered undergrad fetching coffee and copying documents with the goal to endure an unpaid summer stint. In reality internships and other career building opportunities come in all shapes and sizes – and are often paid. Continue reading for enlightenment about alternative career building opportunities.

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Full Year Internships
In my previous post I compared internships and Co-Ops describing an internship as a single semester opportunity. However, there are, in fact, year-long renewable internships out there! For example, some private companies contracted by NASA Johnson work all year long. These year-round interns work full time in the summer, and part time during school. Some full year interns have the same benefits as Co-ops, but with an opportunity work part time during school. On the government side, year long opportunities are currently being offered by NASA for 2017. October is not to early to apply for full year position at your desired company or organization.

robotics_arm

Built by UMD Senior in Electrical Engineering.

UROP
The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) is a unique way to get a taste of academia, conduct research in a team and  work on projects related to your major. Often these opportunities are funded so you will have money for materials and a paycheck. University of Minnesota Duluth has a collection of unique UROP opportunities and world class research projects. One effort in particular that stands out is Dr. Desineni Subbaram Naidu and his research team’s robotic prosthetic arm. Undergraduates, master students, and PhD candidates have all worked on the prosthetic arm team, there is even a TEDx Minneapolis talk about the research. Each semester there is a window open when students can propose an idea for a UROP for funding or join an existing UROP group.

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Photo Source: Unsplash | Nick Karvounis

Job Shadowing
If you are not yet prepared for an internship or not certain about your major, job shadowing can be a good tool for building confidence in you career choices. Asking a desired organization about job shadowing is a low risk way to quickly find out if you are interested in a discipline of work. Before confirming I wanted to study computer science I job shadowed at Park Nicollet for a day to see how information technology applied to the healthcare realm. I thought the challenges of personal information security, big data, and merging of databases was interesting and kept my major. When approaching an organization about job shadowing they may suggest you take a tour of the company building instead which may expose you to jobs of many disciplines. While job shadowing and touring are not paid they may open doors to paid career opportunities.

Do not fret if you do not fit the summer internship mold, there are plenty of alternative career building opportunities that fit with your lifestyle and life goals.

Of Possible Interest

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Ways to Showcase Research on Your Resume

By: Glen

Previously, I have discussed how research is helpful as a career builder, and how to get involved in research. Once you have been a researcher, being able to put your skills into words is important. Explaining your project(s) to potential employers could make or break your application for employment. Today, we will break down a few examples of how to write about your research participation on a resume. All four of the following examples are used directly from the University of Minnesota Duluth Career & Internship Services Career Handbook, 11th Edition.

Example 1
Example 1
Example 2
Example 2

The above examples are located in the “Experience” section of the resume. When writing in the sections featuring your positions, the bullet-point list is a tool that can (and should) be used to your desire. Depending on how much you want to extrapolate from each experience, you will find that positions, projects, and activities will vary in the amount of points you can write. If your involvement in research is something you want to highlight as a main focus, I would recommend having around three to six bullet points with the details of the project, as shown in Example 2. If an experience was worth noting, but you only wish to cover a couple of details, two or three bullets is a good range to shoot for, as per Example 1. If a specific position is not the most important thing on your resume, do not be afraid to just write a brief piece like this:

Example 3
Example 3

In this example, the bolded title of the research position is the name of the program. The Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program was formed to give undergraduates at UMD a chance to lead research. This includes writing a competitive grant application to be funded for their time researching. If your research project was a part of a larger organization, you could put the organization’s name as the title, as shown above in Examples 1 and 2.

Example 3
Example 3

This final example uses the “Education” section to briefly note undergraduate research involvement. Similar to the previous example, featuring the position was not the main goal. These examples use the brief indications of lab work to supplement other experiences on the resume.

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3 Skills Undergraduate Research Can Improve

By: Glen

I recently posted a piece extrapolating on how to get involved in research as an undergraduate, but what is the fuss about undergraduate research? Is that not what graduate school is designed for, practical experiences to fully certify the student? This may be true, but research at the undergraduate level can give you much needed experience earlier in your career. Here are some skills that (in my experience) undergraduate research can improve.

Critical Thinking Skills

Here is a truth that conducting undergraduate research has driven home: If you are going to make a claim, you need to be able to back it up. Research experience can teach you how to ask questions about the world, and search for good answers to those questions.

For example, the internet is filled with posts filled with information that may or may not be true. When you find yourself reading some of these reports, your research experience will have taught you the correct way of being skeptical. You will find yourself asking instinctive questions such as: who conducted the research, what methods were used to make this judgment, can I see the actual data? Heck, maybe you are reading this post right now, and asking questions like: why should I listen to you, what are your qualifications, what proof of these claims do you have? All I can say is this is my personal experience, but I digress. Point is researchers are trained in the importance of hard facts. This is a great skill to have in the workplace.

3 Skills Research

Creative Problem Solving

I have found that the development of my critical thinking skills has led to an increased ability of solving problems in the work place. In the past, I was someone who could solve problems that I had faced before with ease, yet I would struggle with new problems I encountered. I am finding that pattern to be changing as I become more educated. If I were to point toward a cause of this growth, I would point toward my experience conducting research and time spent in my research-oriented classes. Discussing the methodological construction of research studies has opened my eyes to the many ways questions can be answered. Do NOT underestimate this skill.

Lab Skills

This might seem pretty obvious. “You gained lab skills by doing research? No way!” The important fact is that gaining lab skills as an undergraduate can look fantastic on your resume. I am very glad to have my own research experience, because if I decide to go to graduate school, I will be prepared! A number of my professors have told us students stories from former students explaining how grateful they were to have research experience. Apparently, the students with lab practice were much more comfortable with their graduate programs, due to training with statistics and methodological design.

In conclusion, I figure research experience just makes for better people and better employees. Having technical experience looks good, and will make you a more efficient thinker. Now, this is not to say that every person needs to have research experience, but if the opportunity arises, try it out. Perhaps your career path is taking you in a different direction. Maybe you feel like you would be better served with on the job training, internships, or some similar method of gaining experience. Even then, I would highly encourage any student to conduct research if they have the opportunity. It will diversify your skillset, and that looks mighty impressive.

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3 Steps to Get Involved in Research as an Undergraduate

By: Glen

Some of you may have heard that doing research is a great way to get experience and to build your resume. There is truth in those statements! I would definitely advise all students to conduct undergraduate research if you have the opportunity. The first step is where I usually get the question, “How do I get that opportunity?” Depending on your department and where you go to school, the methods can differ. Fortunately, there is an underlying theme for which to approach the situation.

Research as an undergrad

Be Proactive With Academics

My advisor was thoughtful enough to share with me why he allowed me to join his research team sooner than I probably should have. Even as a first semester sophomore without having took the recommended classes yet, my resume showed that I had the potential to be successful. If you are invited to join honor societies, take that invitation. In my personal situation, being in an honors program may have been the key to the gate. My advisor was impressed to see that I was maintaining high grades while being active in other facets of the university.

If the whole honor society thing is not your gig, do not worry, there are other ways to show your professors that you are a fully capable student. One option is to be involved in an academic club or clubs. For me, that was the Psychology Club. Another option would be to participate in some sort of organization that serves the community. This could be the city community or the university community, it does not matter. If your grades are good and you can show that you are being active with your life, you have a much better chance of being accepted into research opportunities.

Find the Opportunities Available to You

While you are maintaining your grades and being active on campus, it is important to think about what you want to research and why. Find some question that you honestly care about answering. Research is a big commitment of time and energy. You are going to need to care about the subject.

There can be multiple ways to get into research once you have a research idea. Here at the University of Minnesota Duluth, we have a number of labs who hire students as paid research assistants. Do not forget to look at the student employment website to check if there are positions open in your research area of interest. In addition, we have the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) for students who have the yearning to write a competitive grant to research their own ideas. Wherever you are, do not hesitate to find what is available to you.

Talk to Your Professors

Once you know what is available to you as a student, you need to make a connection in order to get into a lab. Whether the first contact is an interview or an email, you are going to want to have discussions with the person you are going to be working with. Personally, I started my research experience with a professor because I was interested in the linking of personality and behavior research. The semester in the lab taught me a number of things about the research process, which I enjoyed greatly. Later, I returned to the same professor with my own research idea that was sparked from a class I was taking at the time.

Glen research
Look where I ended up! It was pretty fun.

A great way to find research opportunities on campus is to check what the faculty members in your department are studying. Your faculty members are highly trained, and will definitely know more about current research than you do.

So, there you have it! Maintain your grades, see what is available, and dive in to the research. If you get enough experience, you may find it will get easier and easier. It is never a bad thing to get that first time experience out of the way early, especially if you are going to graduate or professional school.

Of Possible Interest: 

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The Importance of Undergraduate Research Positions & UROP’s

By: Christopher

Undergraduate research positions

These positions that are posted periodically in the UMD employment website allow students to work with professors on projects in their particular area of expertise. Here is an outline of what this kind of work entails.

Provide expanded experience in coursework already taken: If you have a desire to work in research or are genuinely interested in certain topics, this is a great opportunity to explore your field.  Naturally when you take a research position in your discipline you will be going more in depth into classes you’ve already taken.

Allow you to develop self-discipline and organization: Typically the professor you work with will give you an assignment and you will complete it on a deadline in order to get the research done in a timely manner. This will give you skills on how to manage your time between work and play, which is vital if you want to succeed.

Get to know a professor: Professors are people too and they are here to help you in your career, so working with them is a great way to understand how they got to where they are today and possibly find some connections to what you want to do in the future after you graduate.

UROP

For some of you who may not know what a UROP is it’s an Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program. This is a program that allows students to conduct their own research on a specific topic in their discipline.  Here are some of the aspects of a UROP.

Work independently: If blazing your own trail is more how you live your life then this is a wonderful opportunity to craft how your research will turn out. With the guidance of a professor you choose to advise on your project, you can develop meaningful analysis that drives your discipline.

Explore a topic that truly interests you: Although you will have to get your topic approved by UMD, as long as your topic is relevant and provides meaningful discussion in your field, the sky is the limit.

Get funding from department: Did I mention you get money to do this? Depending on the length of the project the University of Minnesota Duluth will compensate you for your hard work.

Present topic: One great opportunity to showcase your accomplishment is presenting your results. Students who complete their research project are able to present in front of the National Conference of Undergraduate Research as well as the UMD Undergraduate Research/Artistic Showcase. Although this is not required it is a great skill to be able to present in front of your colleagues.

Add to your resume: Beefing up you resume is important and completing a project like this shows a lot of great qualities to employers.

Both Undergraduate Research Positions and UROP’s create a new area of learning that you should definitely take advantage of in the future.  From developing skills that may help you in your career to learning about something that interests you these programs can help shape your college career.

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Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP)

By: Cody

The other day I was in class doing an activity where we reviewed the resumes of our partners. My partner looked at my resume and noticed a ‘Research’ section, under which I had my Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) project listed. My partner then said, “What is this? You don’t need this on here.” For those of you, like my partner, who do not know what a UROP is, it is a program through University of Minnesota system that awards grants to students to perform research projects with the guidance of a professor. And for those of you, like my partner, who think this is not something you want to put on your resume, you may want to think again.

Research

A UROP project is a great addition to your resume as it shows you have a number of different skills including: grant proposal writing skills, research skills, and analytical skills.

Grant proposal writing skills will mostly be beneficial for people who are looking for jobs in research labs or companies. However, even if you are not going into research, having this skill shows that you are a superior writer and have the skills to effectively communicate your ideas to others.

Research skills are very broad and can encompass many things such as: writing surveys, conducting interviews, conducting focus groups, planning a project, meeting deadlines, and countless other skills. The important thing with research skills is to highlight the individual skills that you used either in a cover letter or during your interview so that the employer knows what you actually did. It is especially important to highlight skills that the employer is seeking. For example, if an employer is seeking an employee with good communication skills you may want to highlight your interviewing or writing skills you gained from completing your UROP.

By doing a UROP you will also gain analytical skills by analyzing the information you collect from your project and making sense of it all. In almost every field, employers are looking for people who are able to analyze problems and come up with solutions to solve those problems. I am a business major and having been looking for a job and I haven’t come across a job listing yet that doesn’t have ‘analytical skills’ listed as a qualification. Having a UROP shows a prospective employer that you practice finding problems and analyzing the data around you to come up with a solution or a proposed solution for the problem.

A UROP will also provide you with a final paper or project. You can bring this along to your interviews and show it to prospective companies as an example of your work. Most people only bring a resume, cover letter and possibly a few letters of recommendation to an interview. Having this final project as an example of your work will make you more memorable in the eyes of the interviewer and hopefully will land you that job or internship.

As you can see, a UROP is a great opportunity and will provide you with lots of important skills you can apply to your future career. If you want to apply for a UROP, the deadline for Summer and Fall 2013 projects is 02/25/13 at 11:59pm, so act fast! For more information or to apply for a UROP visit http://www.d.umn.edu/urop/

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