When getting started in research, it’s important to think about what motivates you and what is going to drive your passion for research. Do you love the process of finding solutions and answering questions? Is it a competitive drive to create something new? Are you naturally curious and enjoy learning new things? Do you thrive off having goals, deadlines, and objectives to achieve?
As college students, we are all motivated to complete our degree. What drives the motivation to go beyond our academic comfort zone and pursue research? Research takes work, and you want to make sure you’re doing something you are proud of and are learning about a topic that you want to talk with others about. Recognizing how research motivates you is a great place to begin your research journey.
What motivated me to get involved in research? I wanted to learn more about specific aspects of engineering outside of what my peers and I were learning in classes. I knew that I was interested in mechanical engineering, but I wanted to see how mechanical engineering overlaps with the biomedical engineering field to research how diseases work. I pursued this because I knew that it was something I was genuinely interested in and that interest would motivate me to learn more. When I was looking at different labs on campus that aligned with my interests, I considered what they were offering and how that aligned with my motivations. In one lab in particular, I would have the opportunity to work alongside another undergraduate student and in collaboration with graduate students and post-doc researchers. I thrive when working in a group and I am motivated by others, which made this opportunity a match with what I know about my work ethic and myself.
As you look for opportunities, make sure you spend time reflecting on what motivates you and what you want to get out of an experience. Being honest with yourself about what type of opportunity you’re seeking, and being able to weigh the pros and cons of different opportunities will help you decide what will be best for you.
Claire is a senior majoring in mechanical engineering and minoring in mathematics. Click here to learn more about Claire.