panvard92

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Oct 25, 2008
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So I'm a freshman who just started volunteering about 10 hours in a lab. It's a huge lab, researching on a topic I'm interested in, and is one of the top labs in terms of publications and stuff. The only thing is though, is that I'm a "volunteer" so even though I'm actually doing research (like no dishwashing or any of the other beginner lab stuff), I'm not getting paid or anything (even though I do have work study).

There is a lab working closely with this one though where I might have a chance to get a job, but it's with a prof who just started working here, and who still has a very small lab (not that I'm against that). I don't know much about the funding he has, and it seems as though it might take some time for him to get established and develop a network.

With these two scenarios, I don't know whether I should stick with the lab I'm in as a volunteer and hope that a UG student position will open up in a couple years (taking 10-20 hours from my life to volunteer in a lab doesn't make sense to me atm), or just go to the other lab and hope that it'll be just as good....any ideas?
 

Isoprop

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So I'm a freshman who just started volunteering about 10 hours in a lab. It's a huge lab, researching on a topic I'm interested in, and is one of the top labs in terms of publications and stuff. The only thing is though, is that I'm a "volunteer" so even though I'm actually doing research (like no dishwashing or any of the other beginner lab stuff), I'm not getting paid or anything (even though I do have work study).

There is a lab working closely with this one though where I might have a chance to get a job, but it's with a prof who just started working here, and who still has a very small lab (not that I'm against that). I don't know much about the funding he has, and it seems as though it might take some time for him to get established and develop a network.

With these two scenarios, I don't know whether I should stick with the lab I'm in as a volunteer and hope that a UG student position will open up in a couple years (taking 10-20 hours from my life to volunteer in a lab doesn't make sense to me atm), or just go to the other lab and hope that it'll be just as good....any ideas?
Unless you are unhappy in the lab or you need the money, I would stay at your current lab. It's not a guarantee that you'll be happier at the other lab.
 

gujuDoc

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So I'm a freshman who just started volunteering about 10 hours in a lab. It's a huge lab, researching on a topic I'm interested in, and is one of the top labs in terms of publications and stuff. The only thing is though, is that I'm a "volunteer" so even though I'm actually doing research (like no dishwashing or any of the other beginner lab stuff), I'm not getting paid or anything (even though I do have work study).

There is a lab working closely with this one though where I might have a chance to get a job, but it's with a prof who just started working here, and who still has a very small lab (not that I'm against that). I don't know much about the funding he has, and it seems as though it might take some time for him to get established and develop a network.

With these two scenarios, I don't know whether I should stick with the lab I'm in as a volunteer and hope that a UG student position will open up in a couple years (taking 10-20 hours from my life to volunteer in a lab doesn't make sense to me atm), or just go to the other lab and hope that it'll be just as good....any ideas?
Keep in mind that if you volunteer with this lab you are in and stay there then you will get a chance to get paid once you've proved yourself down the road. Many labs work this way. They start paying you as you've proved your capabilities. My lab where I do my graduate thesis does this for lab assistants. The lab where I did ugrad research years ago did this. several labs do this.

Therefore, in conclusion if you are happy with the research, with the lab people running the research lab, and think you have more potential with this lab stay here.

Anyhow, its not like you can get much money for 10 hours a week. I'd stick to volunteering and working your way up to a paid position in this lab you are in.
 

fish89

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Aug 16, 2008
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UG research is about the learning experience. Evaluate where you can get a better experience... do you reallyyy need the money? You could also consider applying to campus UG research scholarships in your current lab. I would say pick on the experience/career growth potential, not the money.
 
Jul 17, 2010
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So I'm a freshman who just started volunteering about 10 hours in a lab. It's a huge lab, researching on a topic I'm interested in, and is one of the top labs in terms of publications and stuff. The only thing is though, is that I'm a "volunteer" so even though I'm actually doing research (like no dishwashing or any of the other beginner lab stuff), I'm not getting paid or anything (even though I do have work study).

There is a lab working closely with this one though where I might have a chance to get a job, but it's with a prof who just started working here, and who still has a very small lab (not that I'm against that). I don't know much about the funding he has, and it seems as though it might take some time for him to get established and develop a network.

With these two scenarios, I don't know whether I should stick with the lab I'm in as a volunteer and hope that a UG student position will open up in a couple years (taking 10-20 hours from my life to volunteer in a lab doesn't make sense to me atm), or just go to the other lab and hope that it'll be just as good....any ideas?
I agree with others. Stay in the lab unless you really need the money.

Can you get grants? I know there are student research grants. Many of them are quite competitive, so that may not work, but are there smaller grants from your school or something? At my school, we had ug research grants that were pretty easy to get, you got a couple grand stipend. Mine was a large state school, so I know not every school has resources like that, but there might be a way to find some money.
 

goldnuts13

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May 26, 2010
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Ask your boss if he'll pay you.

Some PIs don't know about the work study program. At my school, my PI only needed to put about 20% of my salary on his grant. The other 80% was covered by the government and it was capped out at $2000 a semester or something. I doubt he would have problem paying you 2 dollars an hour for a max of 400 dollars/semester.
 
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panvard92

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Oct 25, 2008
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Well...I suppose I don't REALLY need the money, but I can't say that I'm not financially strained (yay UG loans :(). I think my reason for making it a job is because...well, I'm going to put in a bunch of hours (it's 10 now, it'll go up to 15+ next semester probably) to write on my resume that I "volunteered" in a lab. I don't know how it exactly works, but I think saying that it was a job sounds a little more legit, and important.

I realize that what I do is more important than what it's called, but I just don't like that I don't know what my place exactly is in the lab.
 

gettheleadout

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Well...I suppose I don't REALLY need the money, but I can't say that I'm not financially strained (yay UG loans :(). I think my reason for making it a job is because...well, I'm going to put in a bunch of hours (it's 10 now, it'll go up to 15+ next semester probably) to write on my resume that I "volunteered" in a lab. I don't know how it exactly works, but I think saying that it was a job sounds a little more legit, and important.

I realize that what I do is more important than what it's called, but I just don't like that I don't know what my place exactly is in the lab.
Don't hold this as an absolute. It can backfire if you appear to only have participated for the money (because you needed it/wanted it/whatever) and in any case if you don't like contributing time for free what do you plan to do for clinical experience and community service?
 

IlDestriero

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Don't hold this as an absolute. It can backfire if you appear to only have participated for the money (because you needed it/wanted it/whatever) and in any case if you don't like contributing time for free what do you plan to do for clinical experience and community service?
You're seriously suggesting that getting paid to be a research assistant is somehow viewed negatively in comparison to a volunteer in a research lab? You have to volunteer for most other EC things. Don't volunteer for something that you can be paid to do. You can make more as a bartender, I don't think they will view your minimum wage efforts as suspect. "I don't know, I think he did it for the $$$ ...":laugh:
 

goldnuts13

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You're seriously suggesting that getting paid to be a research assistant is somehow viewed negatively in comparison to a volunteer in a research lab?
QFT

You're going to want to list this activity under "research" and not under "volunteer" in the AMCAS anyways (even if you volunteered). I did a lot of volunteering in my research lab because I burned through the work study money pretty quick. I can tell you first hand though that volunteering in a lab does not fulfill the volunteering requirement for medical school. Its not really helping the community in the same way as working in a soup kitchen.

Do what I said before and ask your boss to pay you through the work-study program.
 

Isoprop

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I think my reason for making it a job is because...well, I'm going to put in a bunch of hours (it's 10 now, it'll go up to 15+ next semester probably) to write on my resume that I "volunteered" in a lab. I don't know how it exactly works, but I think saying that it was a job sounds a little more legit, and important.
In your CV, all your research experience will go under the heading "research experience". you don't even mention it was paid or volunteer. and in 10 years, you probably won't even include it in your CV unless you got a pub out of it.
 

gujuDoc

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Well...I suppose I don't REALLY need the money, but I can't say that I'm not financially strained (yay UG loans :(). I think my reason for making it a job is because...well, I'm going to put in a bunch of hours (it's 10 now, it'll go up to 15+ next semester probably) to write on my resume that I "volunteered" in a lab. I don't know how it exactly works, but I think saying that it was a job sounds a little more legit, and important.

I realize that what I do is more important than what it's called, but I just don't like that I don't know what my place exactly is in the lab.
Not really. As someone who has interviewed for paid research associate positions, I'd say that the bigger contributing factor was not whether it was paid or non paid but how much I actually did, whether I could explain my research to the interviewer, etc. That is true with MD admissions too.

you describe the volunteer lab as one which would possibly lead to publications and to me that would trump being paid in terms of importance.

I think publications are siginficant and with volunteer research, as you prove you are available and show that you can take on more responsibility and be indpendent in time they may end up starting to pay you down the road. Most people get paid resarch assistant jobs by volunteering in a lab and then gaining the trust of the PI and getting paid after they've proven their worth. or done volunteering in a lab for several years and shown capability before applying for paid positions. I'd say this will be better for you to do in the long run.
 

gettheleadout

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You're seriously suggesting that getting paid to be a research assistant is somehow viewed negatively in comparison to a volunteer in a research lab? You have to volunteer for most other EC things. Don't volunteer for something that you can be paid to do. You can make more as a bartender, I don't think they will view your minimum wage efforts as suspect. "I don't know, I think he did it for the $$$ ...":laugh:
My point is OP is a freshman that just started working in a lab and he wants to get paid for his time straight off...He should be comfortable starting with volunteering his time without pay until he merits being paid. My point about the appearance is if in an interview he says "Well, I was working with this one lab, but I switched to another where we didn't do anything interesting or enjoyable because I needed the money," then he's not really showing an intellectual interest in research...
 
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panvard92

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10-20 hours per week. As cool as the research is...I just need to tell myself that this is going to be worth taking time off studying (and maybe partying :p).

I think I'll stick to this lab for now, and see where things go...