Setting Goals

arrow-target-blueResearch positions are highly sought after, both here at UConn and at off-campus sites. The first step to getting involved with research or creative activity is to establish your goals and interests. When you approach faculty to ask about opportunities, you want to be prepared to make a positive first impression by showing that you’ve thought about your interests and why you want to get involved.

Use the questions below to begin reflecting on your goals and interests, and as preparation for conversations with potential faculty mentors.

  • Why are you interested in getting involved in research or creative activity?
  • What are you interested in studying/exploring/researching? What areas and departments might be related to your interests?
  • Are there classes you can take that will help you explore and test out your interests?
  • Is there a specific topic you’d like to research or assist with researching?
  • Are there active research or creative projects you would like to be a part of? Why are you interested in those projects? What appeals to you about that work?
  • What are you hoping to learn or gain from your involvement in research or creative activity?
  • Are you looking to gain skills and experience or build on your skills and experience?
  • Do you want to participate in a structured program or experience, or would you like to engage in an independent, self-directed project?
  • Are you seeking opportunities on campus or off campus? During the academic year or summer?
  • How does research or creative activity fit with your future goals and directions?

Don’t worry if you can’t answer all these questions yet. Some of these may take time for you to answer, but going through the reflection process, and understanding what factors you need to consider and what questions you may be asked, is an essential step.

Make sure to focus on why research or creative activity is something that you want to get involved with and what your interests and motivations are. Faculty appreciate students who are genuinely interested in learning the methods and processes used in their academic discipline(s), and who want to get involved in the work they are engaged in. You’ll get more out of the experience if you are satisfying your intellectual curiosity as opposed to focusing on adding something to your résumé or getting involved because someone else wants you to.