Johns Hopkins is America’s first research university, so it’s only natural that many students here want to get involved in research. While the Student Employment Services Job Search Portal features some research listings, there are many other avenues you can take to land a research position, either for credit towards your degree or for pay. If you’re looking to get involved with research, here’s 3 things you need to know:
1. The best way to start is to reach out to your professors. As a student in a massive lecture, it may seem intimidating to take that first step. However, your professors are likely doing exciting research, and it’s not a given that they’ll advertise open positions outside of their personal networks. Walk up to them at the end of class, come to office hours, or send them an email. Even if they say they don’t have a position open, it’s great to show interest.
Bobby, a senior Earth and Planetary Sciences major, told me he got his first research job just by walking up to a professor after class. He now works for credit in the same lab.
“It might not be the case in every department, but professors are always looking for undergrads, and if they aren’t they’ll send you to someone who is,” Bobby said.
2. The key to a research position may be sitting in your inbox. Make sure you open emails from your major or minor listserv or for students in your pre-professional track. Rachel, a junior Biology and Cognitive Science double major, found her current research position through online resources for pre-med students.
“There’s always an opportunity in the emails sent to the pre-med listserv, so it’s important to look out for them,” Rachel said.
3. Research experience is valuable regardless of whether it applies directly to your professional goals. If you’re hoping to go into a more niche field, the opportunities for directly relevant research may be limited. While it’s a good idea to reach out to a professor working in that specific field, don’t sweat it if you can’t find a position that lines up exactly with your major or area of interest.
Bobby and Rachel both said that while they’re unsure whether their current position is exactly what they want to do in the future, the experiences they’ve had are valuable nonetheless.
“Aside from learning mass spectroscopy and a few other lab techniques, my time in the lab taught me more about time management and my own work preferences,” Bobby said.
Thanks to Bobby and Rachel for sharing their wisdom, and keep an eye out for more job advice for students on pre-professional tracks coming soon!