So proud of my URAs!

I’ve had great success finding quality students to work with me, and though I tell them a lot, I won’t get tired of encouraging them further. They’re simply the best!

This semester, I am proud to say that Gavin and Savannah have submitted College of Natural Science funding proposals (cross your fingers!), Ellyse has a record 3(!) presentations in the last two months (take that, public speaking fears!), and Angela has started grad school! I’m excited to get news from others who have moved on as well. (I know y’all read this, so update me!)

Recruiting is tough business, though. It can be really hard to differentiate the students who want (and will put the work into) an authentic scientific experience from those who just want pay or resume kudos. I have a process now that I’ve worked out that consists of the following steps:

1. Ad goes out with basic info. Interested parties email me.

2. I reply with an application and a longer list of expectations of my students. These expectations include that they take on primary responsibilities of a smaller project to present, and that they commit for multiple semesters (This doesn’t always work, but it’s ideal).

3. Those still interested fill out and return the application.

4. We work out an interview time where I verbally go over the expectations again and we tour the lab.

5. I email selected folks and give them 2 weeks to think about it before committing.

6. Once committed, we set explicit expectations through a mentoring contract. This includes what they can expect of me, what I expect of them, and a space for us to jointly work out some additional expectations. We both sign this and each of us receives a copy.

This is my long process, but I’ve found it to be useful and more effective than my original ID-ing of good students. I’ve learned, as should my students, that high GPAs don’t often mean success, especially in the laboratory.

What methods do you use to recruit? Is there anything you’d recommend?

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