College Student Research Jobs: Finding them and why they are Awesome
Hi! My name is Garrett, a senior Electrical/Computer Engineering major at Rowan University in the US. This will be my third summer as a VR Lab Student Researcher, where I have had an amazing experience, growing as a student, teammate, and job seeker. In this post, I’m going to talk about how I found out about this internship as well as the benefits it has provided. Everyone’s situation is different but I hope this may help to guide you towards a path of success in your education and/or career.
How Can You Find Student Research Jobs?
This is personally how I found out about the job I have now. Under my major’s webpage there is a section called “Research” with several categories. I happened to be very interested in “Advanced Visualization & Virtual Reality” and was presented with a page talking about the work and opportunities my school has in the subject area. I sent an email to the contact listed, got an interview, and was hired! I will admit I was lucky here, as I had learned the skills needed for the job outside the classroom through personal hobby projects. It may be difficult for some to get these positions “cold” which is why I have an alternative suggestion.
Talk to Professors/Faculty
A lot of professors do research on topics related to their field of expertise. They are often looking for students to assist them in their research. This gives students opportunities to break into the field. If you are taking a class that you are interested in, talk to your professor about potential research opportunities they may have or know of. If you show interest and are engaged in class then your name will likely be on the top of their list when the time comes. Even if you aren’t in the professor’s class or aren’t too knowledgeable, showing interest will help you to form connections with faculty that may reveal opportunities later down the line.
What are the benefits?
- Access to equipment/resources: The lab that I work at has some of the coolest tech I have seen, including VR/AR headsets, 3D Printers, and 2 Immersive Virtual Reality CAVE systems. If you are paying to go to school, you may as well take advantage of the equipment and get paid to use it!
- Flexibility: My particular position has the wonderful plus of being very flexible in terms of work hours and location. I could work 5 hours 5 days a week, or 12 hours for 2 days a week. Additionally, because of the pandemic, there is the opportunity to work remotely from home. Not all positions may be as gracious, but professors are aware of other academic obligations and are more than willing to accommodate you.
- Build up Skills/Resume: I essentially get paid to learn how to use VR software/hardware and create projects that I find insanely fun. There are programs I have been taught by the faculty/fellow students that I didn’t know existed before that I can now put on my resume as an additional skill. Especially if you are struggling to find internships at companies outside your school, this can be a great way to give yourself a leg up in the future.
- Becoming a Team Player: There are several other student workers at my job, of which I have formed working relationships and even friendships. It’s great to learn how to work together in a lower-stress environment with your classmates and faculty to accomplish bigger things.
I hope my experience has better informed you of college research/work opportunities. Again this is my personal experience and I can’t speak for every college or country, but these tips can likely be applied to your own situation.
In the comments let me know what topics you love learning about. Mine are Video Games, VFX, and Video Editing.
Thanks for reading :)