GBCrzzyy

The moon is just the back of the sun.
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May 18, 2016
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I graduated in May but never had any research experience throughout undergrad. The small private school I spent three years at had absolutely no research at all (plus I wasn't premed and didn't even consider looking for research opportunities outside of school) then I transferred for my last two years because I decided that I wanted to go to medical school. At the large University I transferred to, I applied for a couple research openings on campus but the PIs for those labs were pretty dead set on having students that were either sophomore standing (so they would have more time at the University) or Juniors that have been at the University until then so they could be sure of their academic background. So as a transfer I wasn't what they were looking for then I reapplied the next year but they didn't want to train a Senior that wouldn't be around after graduation. All reasonable but it just didn't work out. I have a full-time job that is giving me extremely valuable medical experience but I wanted to have some kind of research experience. Any ideas how I can find experience as a graduate? Every time I try looking I can only find full-time paid positions but I'm thinking more of a part time schedule and it doesn't have to be paid. Should I start looking up PIs and asking them directly if I can spend time volunteering as an assistant in their lab? I'm near Denver, CO btw.
 

Doctor-S

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Pound the pavement and be willing to receive no responses from PIs (and rejections from PIs) until finally someone perks ups and pays attention to your offer to volunteer your FREE time and labor. It may take a LONG time, but it can be an incredible experience.

Here is my suggestion: look at websites posted by universities, AMCs and colleges situated near you (i.e., Denver). Read the biographies about the different research projects and the PIs with the projects. Volunteer to do nearly anything (legal) to get your foot in the door ... such as clerical work. If you get some of your toes inside the door, and show that you're a great (volunteer) asset to the lab, you *might* be rewarded with more responsibility/participation in the research project.

For instance, you can volunteer to work with someone who is engaged in research related to non-human medicine, such as veterinary research, physics, psychology, etc., among many other fields. Be ambitious, novel, courteous, determined and resourceful. So, yes, you CAN find part-time volunteer opportunities. It may take a while, but they're out there. I wish you the best of success!

Thank you.
 
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thatwouldbeanarchy

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Nov 6, 2014
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If you're open to clinical research, you could also see if any teaching hospitals in your area are looking for volunteer/part-time research assistants. If you'd really prefer to volunteer rather than apply for a job, you may want to look on the hospital's website for active projects and contact the PIs directly to see if they need volunteer help.
 
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GBCrzzyy

GBCrzzyy

The moon is just the back of the sun.
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May 18, 2016
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I've started contacting PIs at one of the teaching hospitals! Hopefully I hear back from someone! Thanks for the advice :)
 
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Jul 15, 2015
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As soon as I graduated college, I started cold calling PIs. After about 150 calls, someone finally let me VOLUNTEER, even though I had experience working in four genetics labs before and during college. After a few months of volunteering (and going broke) I got a job as a salaried tech in a really great lab. Getting a research tech position is 50% luck, 50% persistence. contacting PIs until somebody gives you a chance to work for them.
 
Jun 10, 2015
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As soon as I graduated college, I started cold calling PIs. After about 150 calls, someone finally let me VOLUNTEER, even though I had experience working in four genetics labs before and during college. After a few months of volunteering (and going broke) I got a job as a salaried tech in a really great lab. Getting a research tech position is 50% luck, 50% persistence. contacting PIs until somebody gives you a chance to work for them.
where did you find the PI's contact info

is it ok if I email them
 
Jul 15, 2015
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Some institutions have the PI's contact number listed, others don't. There usually is an email address, although I've found that most of them tend not to respond. Be sure to have a good answer when they ask "Why are you interested in working in my lab?"
 
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GBCrzzyy

GBCrzzyy

The moon is just the back of the sun.
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May 18, 2016
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I've only sent a couple emails so far but I plan on following up on those emails with a phone call in about a week.
 
Jun 20, 2016
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I'm lucky enough to be located in Chicago so I had a variety of different places/people to contact after graduating undergrad this spring, but I definitely agree with the users above who've said to contact the PI's (I did through both email and phone calls). Applying online through the hospital's website (if they have a 'careers' tab) is tedious and usually takes the longest to hear a response from, but that's also an important method of trying to land a position.

The technique I got the most positive yield from was actually surprising to me; I utilized LinkedIn. I joined and connected with Research Coordinators/Lab Techs and Assistants at the hospitals I was aiming for, and a very good chunk of them responded after I sent them a personalized message about any open positions in the labs that they worked in (a handful of them even offered to look at my resume, and one even agreed to schedule a phone call to help tailor my resume towards research positions). By doing this and following up with the people that I messaged (in the end I contact a boatload of people this way--about 70), I ended up with 5 interviews! I definitely think this is a unrecognized method that can actually work if you do it correctly, so definitely try this out.

Although the way I ultimately landed my current position now was through emailing a PI, don't get discouraged when applying for these positions; the whole process for me took about 4 months until I got an offer. I had some experience with basic science research in undergrad so I currently have a position in clinical research in order to broaden my experiences, and most positions that I became aware of on the clinical side ARE paid (which is very nice, especially since I'm saving up for medical school application expenses). The downside of this (which isn't true in my case, but could be viewed as such for others) is that a lot of clinical research positions tend to have a 2 year minimum commitment, so this can get in the way of your plans if your intention is to apply to medical school right after graduation instead of the year after. This tends to be the case over bench lab work positions in my experience (at least for the hospitals in Chicago), so that's another thing to keep in mind for what kind of research you're looking to do in your gap year(s).

Good luck and don't give up!
 
Jul 15, 2015
101
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I've only sent a couple of emails so far, but I plan on following up on those emails with a phone call in about a week.
For future communication, I would recommend calling first, then emailing after a week to follow-up if they seemed receptive over the phone. Scientists are good at forgetting things, despite having to remember enormous amounts of complex information. A follow-up phone call may be a bit awkward.

I applied for jobs in NYC, which has some of the best academic medical centers in the world, but it took months to get a response because of the competition that came with a huge population of job-seekers. Set a daily goal of 10-15 jobs to apply to, and after 2-3 weeks if you don't get any responses, refine your resume and start calling PIs directly instead of applying to jobs online. Scientists love to hear that their research is awesome/incredible/fascinating/valuable; I recommend expressing a lot of enthusiasm when you contact people for a job (and make it sound like you want to contribute for the sake of learning, not for a paycheck).
 

1337leet1337

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Aug 23, 2015
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I'm kind of in the similar scenario. I've contacted several PIs in my area through email, and have only had one respond that their lab was full. For the others who haven't responded, would anyone recommend following it up with a phone call? Or should I continue to contact PIs I haven't yet before? Thanks!

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GBCrzzyy

GBCrzzyy

The moon is just the back of the sun.
2+ Year Member
May 18, 2016
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For future communication, I would recommend calling first, then emailing after a week to follow-up if they seemed receptive over the phone. Scientists are good at forgetting things, despite having to remember enormous amounts of complex information. A follow-up phone call may be a bit awkward.

I applied for jobs in NYC, which has some of the best academic medical centers in the world, but it took months to get a response because of the competition that came with a huge population of job-seekers. Set a daily goal of 10-15 jobs to apply to, and after 2-3 weeks if you don't get any responses, refine your resume and start calling PIs directly instead of applying to jobs online. Scientists love to hear that their research is awesome/incredible/fascinating/valuable; I recommend expressing a lot of enthusiasm when you contact people for a job (and make it sound like you want to contribute for the sake of learning, not for a paycheck).
I will definitely keep this in mind for future communication. I definitely emphasized in the emails that I sent that I'm looking to volunteer my time so I can just focus on learning so hopefully that will help.
 
Mar 21, 2016
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I'm kind of in the similar scenario. I've contacted several PIs in my area through email, and have only had one respond that their lab was full. For the others who haven't responded, would anyone recommend following it up with a phone call? Or should I continue to contact PIs I haven't yet before? Thanks!

Sent from my SM-G920V using SDN mobile
I would continue to contact PIs you haven't contacted before, as well as follow up with the ones you've already reached out to.

---

I was in this situation when looking to join a psych lab and gain research experience after graduating. What I did was draft up a short cover letter as follows:

-one brief paragraph introducing myself, and saying explicitly I am looking to research with them
-one brief paragraph discussing my future career and educational goals
-one brief paragraph listing my skills
-acknowledge that you know they are busy and thank them for their time. say you look forward to hearing back, and that you've attached your resume. you can even include a bit asking if they know of anyone who may have opportunities, if they themselves don't.

Ultimately, I emailed over 200 PIs at Universities around the country whose research I was even remotely interested in. Of course, I was looking for a paid job so universities out-of-state would have been viable in such a situation. Know that you won't hear back from even 75% of them if you contact them via email.

I personally don't like calling people over the phone, as they often can be caught off-guard. If you reach out over email and they like what they read they may have time to think over what opportunities they may have available. Email also gives them the opportunity to refer you to colleagues whose research they think you might find interesting. Over the phone is too brief for any of this to happen IMO, and you don't want to be the kid who calls over and over and over again to keep asking questions.
 

1337leet1337

2+ Year Member
Aug 23, 2015
54
19
Status
Pre-Medical
I would continue to contact PIs you haven't contacted before, as well as follow up with the ones you've already reached out to.

---

I was in this situation when looking to join a psych lab and gain research experience after graduating. What I did was draft up a short cover letter as follows:

-one brief paragraph introducing myself, and saying explicitly I am looking to research with them
-one brief paragraph discussing my future career and educational goals
-one brief paragraph listing my skills
-acknowledge that you know they are busy and thank them for their time. say you look forward to hearing back, and that you've attached your resume. you can even include a bit asking if they know of anyone who may have opportunities, if they themselves don't.

Ultimately, I emailed over 200 PIs at Universities around the country whose research I was even remotely interested in. Of course, I was looking for a paid job so universities out-of-state would have been viable in such a situation. Know that you won't hear back from even 75% of them if you contact them via email.

I personally don't like calling people over the phone, as they often can be caught off-guard. If you reach out over email and they like what they read they may have time to think over what opportunities they may have available. Email also gives them the opportunity to refer you to colleagues whose research they think you might find interesting. Over the phone is too brief for any of this to happen IMO, and you don't want to be the kid who calls over and over and over again to keep asking questions.
Ok thanks that's good to know! I'm not really in a position to contact 200 PIs , just because I need to stay local for my gap year(s). Fortunately, I have about 50 PIs accessible in the area, so hopefully that'll be sufficient. For follow ups, I wanted to avoid sending the same email or sounding too repetitive, you know? I have nothing to build on in a follow up email when I haven't gotten a response - any advice? Thanks for responding!

Sent from my SM-G920V using SDN mobile
 
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Mar 21, 2016
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Ok thanks that's good to know! I'm not really in a position to contact 200 PIs , just because I need to stay local for my gap year(s). Fortunately, I have about 50 PIs accessible in the area, so hopefully that'll be sufficient. For follow ups, I wanted to avoid sending the same email or sounding too repetitive, you know? I have nothing to build on in a follow up email when I haven't gotten a response - any advice? Thanks for responding!

Sent from my SM-G920V using SDN mobile
Usually I just reiterate my interest in the lab and state again that if they don't have any positions, if they could give me a name of someone who might.