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Wesleyan University

Undergraduate Research Assistant

June - August 2019 • Middletown, CT

What I liked

I loved getting the opportunity to spend the entire summer working in a field of research I was interested in doing in the future. I enjoyed the opportunity to go off campus to present at conferences.

What I wish was different

I would have like to have had more things to do around campus.

Advice

Doing research on campus enables you to have one on one advisor experience with a faculty member which is not something you would get anywhere else. You will be able to broaden your skills and work on challenging projects. You take on the responsibility of progressing the research of your assigned project. However, far you want to push the project is up to you and the only limitation is your imagination when it comes to integrating cross-disciplinary ideas to solve the problems you face during the experience.
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Biology Laboratory Assistant

May - August 2020 • Middletown, CT

What I liked

The lab I worked for studies vertebral column and muscle development in zebrafish and is generally very wet lab oriented, but this summer due to COVID-19 and restrictions that prevented us from conducting in person scientific research, we were able to adapt to a virtual lab environment using uCT scans of adult zebrafish skeletons that we had from the lab! We had to exercise both our resourcefulness and flexibility in order to make this work, and along the way I learned incredibly useful data analysis skills and learned how to use a 3D scan software called Meshlab to analyze the skeletons. This adaptability and opportunity to learn new dry lab skills was an amazing learning experience.

What I wish was different

As we all wished was different, a part of me still wished I was able to integrate more wet lab work into my summer research to complement the dry lab data I was able to collect. There’s nothing quite like being at the microscope and working at the bench!

Advice

I would advise to always be flexible and open to new learning experiences! I was nervous about transitioning to dry lab/computational work because I didn’t have much previous experience in that field, but it’s been so rewarding an valuable to immerse myself with that type of research. Don’t be afraid to be put in a different learning environment, it will only help you to grow! And who knows, maybe you will enjoy a new change of pace from what you normally are used to.
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Psychologist Research Assistant

May - August 2020 • Middletown, CT

What I liked

We were allowed to be very autonomous and have control over our projects. We were also given great alumni contacts to reach out to for help with our research

What I wish was different

I would have liked some more general deadlines

Advice

Being organized and finding a topic you are passionate about will make research much more enjoyable and productive.
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Senior Interviewer

June 2020 • Middletown, CT

What I liked

I love the people I worked with in admissions. They are very responsive and we’re incredibly helpful.

What I wish was different

I wish we had started earlier, but that is the fault of the pandemic more than anything else.

Advice

It’s a really great program, so make the most of it.
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Undergraduate Research Assistant

May - August 2019 • Middletown, CT

What I liked

I liked doing research over the summer because I was able to focus on my project without worrying about classes and extracurriculars like during the school year. There were great workshops to help with various skills necessary to work in the sciences. The poster session at the end of the program was a low pressure way to create a poster for the first time and get feedback from peers about how successful it was at conveying my work. I liked having a flexible work schedule and a casual environment.

What I wish was different

I wish more food options had been provided by the program because it was a challenge living in the dorms and keeping a balanced diet while also not spending your entire salary on eating out.

Advice

If you work in a lab at Wesleyan, staying over the summer to do research is a great way to move your project forward and get closer with your professor and fellow lab mates. The research community is very close knit and you will get to see your friends at work everyday!
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Research Assistant

May - August 2019 • Middletown, CT

What I liked

I really enjoyed the research I was working on this summer concerning privacy policy technology. The material was incredibly intellectually stimulating and the professor I worked with was very insightful and enthusiastic.

What I wish was different

I enjoyed everything in regards to the academic pursuits of the project. However, being on campus in Middletown in the summer can be a bit boring. I am lucky enough to have access to a car so I was able to go home most weekends. Had I not been able to do that, my summer would have been much less fun.

Advice

If you are potentially interested in academia or research in any capacity, I would really suggest spending a summer here. First of all, the campus is beautiful in the summer. More importantly, it is a great chance to get an inside look into the day-to-day experiences of research and academia.
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Biology Laboratory Assistant

June - August 2019 • Middletown, CT

What I liked

I enjoyed the friendly and professional atmosphere of the lab. I loved getting to know the PhD and graduate studies community. Living in Middletown over the summer was nice bcause I learned a lot more about the area.

What I wish was different

I wish the structure of the poster session was better designed with the time frame of the research. Most student jobs last for about 10 weeks and culminating with the findings of the research. However, often the research simply not complete after 10 weeks bthe requirements of the poster session should be updated to better reflect the nature of the work that is being done.

Advice

Take full advantage of the fun activities that go on outside the lab with the people you work with. Obviously the work is important and will get done, but it can be a little bit of a drag to be on campus through the summer if you’re not soedning it with people you like.
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Paleoclimate Research Assistant

May - August 2019 • Middletown, CT

What I liked

The opportunity to conduct real science, science that matters. I was also asked to speak at the National GSA conference on my summer research, which was an incredible networking opportunity.

What I wish was different

I wish I had more structure and clear-headed advisement.

Advice

Be outspoken about topics that you care about. There are so many problems in the world, pick one and be passionate to start. I would also recommend that researchers make business cards to hand out at conferences.
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Research Assistant

May - July 2018 • Middletown, CT

What I liked

The research was very fascinating and gave a lot of good opportunities to me as an undergraduate student. For example, I got the chance to co-author a publication as well as engage in data analysis which are useful aspects to consider when applying to graduate school. It was also fun to run the studies on participants.

What I wish was different

I wish it would have been a little bit more immersive and independent. I felt sometimes that I was only helping others with their studies and their publications -- which would have been fine if I had also gotten a chance to apply those skills to my own work. For instance, I would have loved to be given the opportunity to design my own study and complete a literature review on a subfield that I found interesting which would also benefit the lab.

Advice

Definitely ask for what you want. You may not always be allowed to, say, not engage in recruitment, but if you're interested in coding or programming for experiments or SPSS/psych stats, ask how you can get more involved with it in the lab. Most times you will be able to do so.
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Research Fellow

May - August 2019 • Middletown, CT

What I liked

Being a part of the Student community during the summer, being able to invest full time into my research and make substantive progress.

What I wish was different

Advice

Look for housing extremely early! Campus housing is stupidly overpriced, and it's really hard to find a place to stay in town. But it'll cut your rent in half.
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Research Fellow

June - August 2019 • Middletown, CT

What I liked

I really liked the experience of finding out something new, and contributing to the knowledge of the science world.

What I wish was different

Advice

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Research Assistant

June - September 2018 • Middletown, CT

What I liked

The environment was warm and accepting and everyone was willing to help in anyway possible.

What I wish was different

N/A

Advice

The experience is short and there are so many wonderful and helpful people to meet. The best thing you can do is build strong connections that will persist long after you have left so that everyone here is just an email away from helping you when need be.
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Recipient of a Summer Experience Grant

June - August 2018 • Berkeley, CA

What I liked

Applying for and receiving the Wesleyan Summer Experience Grant allowed me to pursue a non-traditional research project last summer. I was able to get on the ground experience working with and interviewing organizations that related to my academic field of interest, as well as embark on a once-in-a-lifetime hiking trip to self-explore in the service of rethinking a connection to "nature" and the built-environment.

What I wish was different

I wish I had some more time before the experience began to properly prepare. Coming out of a very busy school year I had to jump into a difficult experience that at times I wish I would have been more mentally and physically prepared for such a radically different day-to-day from what I had experienced at school.

Advice

I think if you are able to get a Summer Experience Grant the best piece of advice I can give is to take advantage of the freedom it can afford you before entering a more restrictive environment. Put yourself out of your comfort zone, try new things and explore, because you will never know where you may find inspiration .
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Alumni and Parent Relations Intern

June - August 2018 • Middletown, CT

What I liked

The people and how much of a community the department is.

What I wish was different

Given more responsibility in my work.

Advice

Be proactive about taking on more responsibility.
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Research Intern

May - July 2018 • Middletown, CT

What I liked

Opportunity to focus completely on my research project Built relationship with advisor and other lab members Enjoyed being on campus

What I wish was different

I wish I could have stayed for longer

Advice

Research is slow sometimes, but be flexible and stay positive.
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Research Assistant

July 2018 • Middletown, CT

What I liked

Individual research experience

What I wish was different

nothing

Advice

Helpful to learn more about research in psychology
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College of Integrated Sciences Fellow: MacQueen Laboratory

May - August 2017 • Middletown, CT

What I liked

The ability to fully immerse myself into research for the first time was extremely exciting! I was given the freedom & the opportunity to make my own mistakes, but always had so many people to help me along with every step. Research is challenging, frustrating, but incredibly rewarding.

What I wish was different

There will be less students on campus than there is during the typical school year, so you need to be intentional about building community within your lab & residence. CIS also hosted weekly movie nights so be sure to take advantage of those type of opportunities!

Advice

It really helps if you start attending lab meetings & learning a few skills during the semester before you become a research fellow! I had to dive in without any prior knowledge, and it was hard to only have a week to be trained by my mentor before needing to do more independent research.
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Field Assistant

May - July 2018 • Middletown, CT

What I liked

I liked learning a lot during this experience and getting to work closely with a Wesleyan professor. I gained experience in field ecology and got to know a lot more about Connecticut's ecosystems.

What I wish was different

I wish that the experience had been for the entire summer.

Advice

Finding housing close to campus that is not super expensive is challenging.
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Student Research

June - August 2018 • Middletown, CT

What I liked

I really learned a lot in the lab, built a good relationship with my PI, and experienced a great lab community.

What I wish was different

I wish housing and food options on campus were better.

Advice

Get to know the people you are working with and take responsibility for your learning.
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Sustainability Office Intern

May - December 2018 • Middletown, CT

What I liked

I liked having a lot of personal responsibility and autonomy in the projects I was assigned.

What I wish was different

A lot of my job ended up being small logistical things. I was happy to do them since I accepted that it should not be my boss's job to do them, but I enjoyed them less.

Advice

Open and clear communication with your boss is really important. Also, something I always keep in mind is a good worker is someone who just does what they're told. So just do what you're assigned to do.
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