The University of Toronto St. George campus offers awesome opportunities. Finding a research position at the University of Toronto can be intimidating since there are lots of requirements to meet, such as maintaining a high grade average or having previous experience in the field. No matter what the expectations are, approach them with a focus and willingness. Even if that means volunteering at first. There are various research opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students, so you should reach out and get connected to gain experience during your academic years. Here are some great places to find a research position at UTSG.
1) It Might Not Pay
Your first research position might not be a paid position. However, you should not be worried about this, especially if you are just starting out. Don’t prioritize money at first or you will halt your progress. Alternatively, if your grade point average isn’t quite where you want it to be, you may consider a volunteer position.
If your grade point average is high, you have a better chance. But remember that volunteering can lead to further research projects. Also, volunteering will help you to build and maintain connections that could later facilitate a bigger step. Visit CLNx to begin your search for volunteer experience, no matter what year of study or program you’re in. For example, if you are looking for lab experience, get started in smaller research and move your way up. A common misunderstanding of volunteering is that it’s viewed as less important than career or work experience. However, volunteering has an impact on your profile and resume. In fact, volunteering adds value by providing you with applicable experience and demonstrating your willingness to learn out of genuine interest. It gets your foot in the door!
2) Making Connections
If you haven’t connected with your professors, then now would be the time to begin. This is important as professors are fountains of knowledge and can be a major connection to your next position. If you haven’t really talked to your professors during your first year, do not fret. You can always reach out during the summer or autumn.
First, it is recommended that you figure out which course (or courses) you are going to take, so you can begin meeting with your professor(s). You can do so on the Student Web Services Course Finder for University of Toronto students. Many students wait a couple of months to get into the flow of the course content, and then by December (or March depending on the semester), they start reaching out to their professors. Therefore, start asking questions about career paths or research opportunities in the field early on. Once you’ve kept up a good rapport with your professors, you can ask them about a research position.
While professors at the University of Toronto have an obligation to assist students by providing information as reasonably as they can, develop a genuine rapport with them because this will go further. Your professors are human beings and you should thank them as often as needed. If you aren’t sure what to talk to your professors about, or how to meet with them, start by making small talk about the program or the courses they teach. Try to schedule meetings with them during office hours, if they have any. Ultimately, be friendly and kind. Professors can be overwhelmed by the number of students and inquiries they get, so be patient. If it’s been more than three weeks, try reaching out by email again.
Volunteering is also beneficial when applying to graduate school. With this in mind, you may have to start at one location as a volunteer before you become an internal researcher with the University of Toronto. A friend of mine began volunteering at a nearby hospital for her second year of study, which evolved into allowing her to apply to an internal research position in a similar department, where she worked for another year. After connecting with her supervisor, then the professor guiding the internal research, she landed another research project which would go on to publish some serious journals. So if you are interested in fields related to healthcare, start with the University of Toronto’s partnering hospitals and volunteer. Connecting and establishing a rapport will be extra important once you’re in.
4) Grade Average
If you are not satisfied with your grade point average or if it has taken a hit, you are still encouraged to apply for research positions. Sometimes professors or other professionals will overlook your grade point average. People are looking for enthusiastic individuals who will persist and demonstrate their willingness to learn. This goes a lot further than just good grades, so keep this in mind when you’re looking at the University of Toronto research partners and related networks. Never sell yourself short! Apply to as many as you can and do not give up.
5) Research Opportunity Course
Enroll in a Research Opportunity Course. Some of these occur during the summer months and applications open up in spring. Research courses can count towards a full credit. On top of this, it’s a great time to be in a research setting with your peers and professors, which facilitates greater connections. Use the Course Finder or log onto the Career Learning Network. Contacting your faculty directly may lead to a lot of internal opportunities. So talk to your teacher’s assistants (TAs) as well.
Best of luck on your research endeavours at the University of Toronto. Looking for more? Read Part-Time Jobs For University of Toronto Students next!