How to Get Laboratory Research Experience

Laboratory & Research Advice

How to Get Laboratory Research Experience

Students planning to apply for an “academic masters” (in the humanities or sciences) or a Ph. D. should aim for laboratory or research experience. Laboratory experience shows admissions officers that a candidate has refined understanding and a developed skill set that will be vital to success in further academic research.

In contrast to the structured internship application process, laboratory placement varies in formality. Some professors post research openings and require applications, while others simply invite the top academic performers from their class or rely on personnel recommendations from graduate student members of the lab. Certain best practices should guide your search, no matter the rigor of the selection process.

Many lab leaders prefer to hire only experienced researchers. So how does one get started?

  1. Seek out campus organizations that provide hands-on science opportunities and search for competitions that will give you experience. These projects signal that you are serious about research and will teach you the skills and language associated with your field, helping you to land an interview and impress prospective supervisors.
  2. Learning about the inner-workings of a lab is also vital. Read recently published research from your university and search online for the contributors. Learn about their backgrounds – this can inform and inspire. Ask friends that are employed as Research Assistants about their laboratory work and inquire on potential openings.
  3. Building relationships with your professors is crucial as well. Introduce yourself after class and share your research interests. Ask for advice on courses to take to better prepare for future research. Inquire if they are looking for Research Assistants or if they know of openings on another project (the closer your interests align with the professor’s, the more likely you are to land a slot in their lab). Be enthusiastic because your courage in asking will likely impress your professor.

Finding and seizing the right summer opportunity is all about preparation and taking initiative with a smart strategy. Internships and lab positions go to the diligent candidates that go the extra mile by showcasing how their interests and experiences equip them to do a standout job.

Get started today! You’ll thank yourself later.


Greg Nance

ChaseFuture CEO