More often than not, faculty mentors and researchers are eager to have students show initiative and reach out thoughtfully to them about possible opportunities. It shows commitment, curiosity and will allow you and the faculty member to decide if it might be a good match. Because the research environment often involves some type of mentorship, a ‘good match’ between faculty and student is very important. This is not a traditional job search. You are advised to treat this as an opportunity not an expectation. Faculty are under no obligation to involve undergraduates in their work.
- Finding, and securing, an undergraduate research opportunity is fundamentally up to you and your initiative. While the CCRF staff are available for advising, the burden lies on you to take time to decide if research makes sense for you, if it fits well with your academic and professional ambitions, and what type of research experience (and with whom) would best suit your interests and curiosities.
- First-year students are encouraged to get settled into the rhythms of academic life in the College before seeking out research. We recommend you begin to keep an eye out for potential research opportunities but wait until winter or spring quarter to begin making formal inquiries. That being said, there are research opportunities offered in the summer and not all will have an expectation of previous experience. Use your first year to identify and plan for opportunities, with the possibility of beginning during the Spring of your first year or in the summer.
- Undergraduate research takes time and at UChicago, it is a serious business. Do not get involved unless you can comfortably spend 8-15 hours a week engaged in your research. Many upper-division students will spend much more time devoted to their research activities.
- Don’t neglect personality ‘fits’. A faculty researcher or principle investigator could become a mentor and, at a minimum, you will be working very closely with that person. Make sure it is a good fit for the both of you.
- Do not simply send out dozens of emails. Be strategic, purposeful and thoughtful about your search. Perform your due diligence as detailed on our 'getting started' pages in order to make the best use of your time and not waste faculty time.