A warning for undergraduates who want research experience

A warning for Undergraduates who want research experience

When you apply for an assistant job (or any job at all, really) it is super important to follow the application guidelines. I know its tempting to write a longer statement of interest, or give too many references, or turn in a resume longer than a page (as well as a CV), or a million other tiny mistakes a person can make while applying for a job.  However, when you get a number of applicants, all that tells me is that you maybe don’t follow directions all that well, regardless of how well qualified you might be. It puts you in the “no pile without my ever realizing how awesome you are simply because there are other people who followed the directions and you did not.  Lame, but true.   


So here are a couple of hints:

A resume (if you’re even required to use one) should be ONE PAGE ONLY and tell me the highlights of your career specific to the job for which you are applying

A CV should list everything important, but can be re-organized to highlight the information that you want them to pay close attention to

A statement of interest should say all the things that are NOT in a CV (believe me, I’ll read that too!) and are the reasons you are interested in the specific position for which you are applying. For instance, if you are applying for a field position, it might be because you are planning on going to graduate school in a field-based discipline, because you love being outdoors and hope to find a position that allows you to do that, or because you ADORE spiders, whatever will tell me that you are the one for the job. 

This statement tells me several things about you: 

               1) It gives me some hints about your personality, how professional you are, if you         might have a sense of humor, what you are motivated by, that sort of thing

               2) It gives me a small sample of your writing style: this is important.  Proper grammar, spelling, and organization, are all crucial.  I set a low word limit because I want to see if you can be concise (and because I really don’t want to read a million words about all the things that I can also see on your CV), but what the word limit is, follow it.   

               3) This can help you stand out in the crowd if your CV doesn’t.  Sometimes because field work is difficult, and working in the tropics can be challenging, its more important to me that you have huge amount of experience backpacking and enthusiasm for science than it is that you have a ton of experience in research. 



I think that’s all for now, I may add to this when I think of more, and feel free to let me know if there are other things you think are important or if you disagree.  I’m still working on how to be a mentor and teacher too.  I can always use improvement! Until then, happy job hunting!!

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