Advertising for Undergrads...

Jan 02 2016 Published by under Lab, Mentoring

So I got saddled with a presentation to some local undergrads about our work that we do in the lab in hopes of inspiring these young and bright minds to come do a senior thesis in the lab. I've got ~20 minutes and I'm wondering how to organize the presentation. I'm thinking of either talking on project in some detail or giving a broad and quick overview and then presenting two or three short vignettes on projects that these students could work with me on. I know I can give a better presentation if I just present one project, but since this is a sales pitch I think I'm going to work present it as here is what we do and some things that you can work on.

Thoughts. Tips. Excuses not to?

7 responses so far

  • eeke says:

    Does it have to be in the context of a single project? I get tons of requests from undergrads asking for a position in my lab; I think most of it is based on the general description of our interests that I have posted somewhere on a website. Something like "we work on how to cure cancer" might have a broader appeal with inexperienced young people than "we work on mechanisms of angiogenesis." If you are purposely trying to turn them away though, go with the second approach and be sure to tell them that their experiments are extremely difficult, no one else wants to do them, and they will most likely fail.

    • genomicrepairman says:

      That's what I'm thinking is to go really broad. But its tempting to talk about a hot project that I've got going on now that an intern could jump onto and get a paper on by the end of 2016.

      Definitely not trying to scare the shit out of them. Yet.

  • RW says:

    1st year grad student, so my naive optimism is probably about the same as your audience. I suggest a detailed explanation of the context of your research projects. Really focus on your motivations, and be detailed on current gaps in knowledge or technology. Personally, the 'why' always gets me more excited than the 'how', and it can be tough to talk to undergrads at the correct level of detail. More briefly, describe your research plans, and what kinds of capabilities your lab has. I'm always excited when I can start to come up with solutions on my own, so that's how you'd really set the hook for me. When interested students contact you, you can cover methodologies, timelines, and outcomes in more detail.

    • genomicrepairman says:

      Thanks for the great insight. I'm not too big into wanting to discuss methodologies with them but wanted to give them an idea of how we harness the power of genetics and physiological outcomes in a very broad sense.

  • Juan Lopez says:

    My $0.02:
    I would keep the message general, with a broad and quick overview of what your lab does. The key is to show them the general area of research and why it is worth spending time on it. It took me several years to realize this. Now, we host several undergraduates in the lab each year. There will be time to show them details.

  • Juan Lopez says:

    Browsing the intertubes I found this Research page:
    http://research.vuse.vanderbilt.edu/mechanobiology/research.html

    The video says nothing about the projects themselves, yet I bet it has helped them with recruitment.

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