Walking down the Haley Center concourse on a Wednesday “O-Day” can seem daunting for a new student at Auburn. Any direction you look there are fellow students distributing fliers and announcing events their organization is hosting.
With 500 student organizations available to choose from on AUInvolve, a new student may not know where to begin their search. A student who is academically oriented and wishes to develop their professional skills may not know what type of involvement or experience will provide them with what they are seeking.
Anna Robinson, President of the Undergraduate Research Ambassadors, recommends that after a new student has acclimated to college life that they consider getting involved in research as an undergraduate. Anna began her undergraduate research involvement her second semester of her sophomore year, but some students start even earlier. A common misconception is that research is an activity exclusively for graduate students or faculty members, but this is not the case.
The Undergraduate Research Ambassadors (URA) are an Academic Initiative of the Auburn University Student Government Association. Each Undergraduate Research Ambassador is a student who has had research experience and wants to encourage other students to get involved. The URA provide information to interested students about research opportunities available.
“Students who want to go to professional school should get involved in research because it makes them move competitive and can open doors,” Anna said.
Anna’s advises interested students to “talk to your professors, many faculty members need assistance with their research. Professors can be your greatest resource for research opportunities.”
The URA also host the annual Undergraduate Research Opportunities Fair held in conjunction with the This is Research: Student Symposium. At the fair, students can speak with faculty members from each college about their research. This fair is a great place for students to browse research opportunities that may be outside of their own discipline.
There are many “soft-skills” learned by having an undergraduate experience.
“Whenever you start working with your mentor they do not expect you to know everything. Conducting research as an undergraduate is a learning experience,” Anna said.
According to Anna, some of these soft-skills include, time-management, patience and communication.
“My research experience even helped me in classes, especially when I had already obtained the skills needed for class,” Anna said.
In addition to speaking with an Undergraduate Research Ambassador, interested students should explore the resources available online provided by the Auburn University Office of Undergraduate Research.