Leveraging Your Research Experiences

By Anisha Jain, Peer Research AmbassadorLeveraging Your Research Experiences. By PRA Anisha.

As I prepare to graduate this coming spring, I’ve had to learn how to apply for jobs and graduate school for the first time. I’ve had many conversations with mentors, family, and friends trying to understand how to present my academic career thus far. In this post, I want to share what I’ve learned and how I’ve been leveraging my research experience.

As an aspiring physician-scientist, the graduate programs and jobs that I’m applying for heavily factor in a candidate’s research experiences, capacity to think independently, and intellectual curiosity. When describing experiences to selection committees or hiring managers, it is your responsibility to explain the significance of your experiences and why they are relevant. This is far more impactful than merely stating that you’ve had an experience or developed a skill.

An example of this would be when talking about receiving grant money. Instead of simply mentioning that you received a grant to fund your research, you want to go further and elaborate on why this matters and the skills this experience demonstrates. Consider emphasizing grant writing as an example of your technical writing skills, as well as critical thinking and familiarity with the scientific method. Anyone looking at your resume will see the listed experiences but to stand out they need you to be the bridge, connecting relevant experiences with the opportunity, which also gives you control over your narrative.

One note of caution: avoid over-inflating experiences and extrapolating more from your experience. When explaining your experiences, it’s easy to fall into the territory of over embellishing experiences in a misleading fashion. This can be detrimental in the end.

Don’t be discouraged if you feel underqualified for certain positions or programs. In those cases, leverage your research experiences and use them to show initiative or serve as a foundation for curiosity. Research experience allows you to establish an interest in a field and develop a muscle for critical thinking that employers look for and value. These are reflections from my point in this process but it is up to you to best dissect your research experiences and present their significance and transferable skills you have acquired to employers.

Anisha is a senior majoring in Pathobiology and minoring in Molecular & Cell Biology. Click here to learn more about Anisha.