Assisting with Career Development
Helping your UROP with career development not only helps your students grow as researchers, but also can help you add important skills to your own portfolio.
Tips for helping your UROP with career development:
- Do you have colleagues that you can introduce them to in order to help them develop a professional network?
- There are community groups and networks for diverse scientists and students. Familiarize yourself with these resources and make your mentee aware of them.
- Can you make sure to teach them some marketable skills within this field?
- Can you get them facetime with your PI if they do not already have it?
- Introduce and nominate them for awards/opportunities such as:
- Going to a conference with you even if they aren’t an author
- Conducting fieldwork
- Meeting with collaborators/sponsors
- Telling them about things you did like REUs or internships
- Seeing what UROP or department awards for which they may qualify
Writing Letters of Recommendation (LOR)
- Make sure that the UROP student gives you information about the position, deadlines, and any key things that they want you to highlight in the letter
Highlight what the student did in the UROP, skills/techniques they utilized, and any initiative they took and how it relates to the position for which you are recommending them
Keep it short and simple—a good LOR is one that can be read quickly
Use active words and communicate how they acted as a lab member and researcher without usingUROP-specific context—remember, not all schools have UROP programs, and some internships want descriptions to be more applicable and general
Use “undergraduate research assistant,” “research assistant,” or “undergraduate researcher”
Some rec. letter writing resources that might be helpful:
Adding to your career through UROP mentorship
Many skills mentors bring to bear in mentoring UROPs will serve you well throughout your career, including:
- Many graduate programs don’t always have a strong emphasis on TA roles or other mentorship opportunities so mentoring UROPs is a great opportunity to develop mentorship, supervision, and teaching skills.
- Fellowship—Graduate Community Fellows (GCF) is an awesome opportunity if you aren’t aware of it and a lot of offices like people who have mentorship experience.
- Department awards—a lot of departments have awards for mentorship. If your department doesn’t already have one, ask to see if they will create one!
- Take on roles within your laboratory to help coordinate and mentor UROPs.
- Coordinate UROPs across the lab or department for poster sessions, awards,journal clubs, etc.
- Letters of Recommendation (LOR), applications, etc.
- Ask your PI to highlight your mentoring UROP student(s).
- Add statements from UROP students along with any teaching evaluations,especially since MIT teaching evaluations don’t always include comments.
- Look at roles and responsibilities within university postings for folks withexperience supervising and coordinating undergrad research.
- Seek awards for research mentorship within UROP office, yourschool/department, MIT at large, and/or academic societies.
- Many universities are interested in expanding their undergraduate research programs, and this can be a great point to help structure your applications for any Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) or mentorship positions at universities.