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Pursuing research as a position or post-bac (a degree after your undergraduate experience that allows you go deeper or broader in your studies) is an excellent method to prepare for:
- a full-time career in research
- professional school
- academia, or
- any number of industries or the government.
Types of Positions
There are a number of areas and programs specializing in research, and with a degree or experience in Psychology, understanding the mind is critical and valuable when collecting and assessing the impact of data. Note that often these positions are often term-limited and may only be guaranteed for a year or two.
How to Be a Competitive Applicant
- Have a bachelor’s degree
- A year or more of research experience
- Good references and recommendation letters
- Professionalism and attention to detail
- Being able to design, run, analyze, and write up your own research
- Experiences in leadership and managing within the context of research
- Interest/experience in data management and using Excel or other computer programs
- Contribution to publications
Tips from Graduate Students and Lab Managers
- "Take a gap year or three. Get some practical experience before you make the commitment of grad school."
- "Lab positions don't need to be in the exact area you want to apply to, though it can be helpful. Lab positions give you a chance to learn the research process more thoroughly and you can learn skills that can be applied across topics."
- "Learn how to function independently but cohesively in a group. Asking questions and getting clarification is a great, but learn to tackle things you’ve been trained on without being coddled."
Where to Find Positions
- Check out the Psych Dept Weekly Newsletter
- Email PIs whose work you find interesting
- Bi-weekly recent grad newsletter
- Tell your professors, PI's, and grad students in your lab that you are looking for position (and to keep you in mind if they hear of anything)
- University Career websites
- Professional Organizations websites such as American Psychological Association (APA), Association for Psychological Science (APS), National Science Foundation (NSF), and Psi Chi International Honor Society