Remote or hybrid remote/in-person remains a viable option for UROP work. Depending on the type of research or student circumstances, this can allow students to take part in UROP in new and exciting ways.
However, supervisors planning to mentor remote UROPs should consider the following:
Keys to remote/hybrid UROP supervision
While these areas are especially important for remote and hybrid supervision, many of these tips can be applied to in-person UROPs as well.
- Maintain active communication throughout the UROP
Effective Communication Tips
- Set up norms and expectations
- How and when you communicate (ex: Slack, email, calls, etc)
- Setting the expectations for things going wrong in research and how to handle itproductively
- Understanding and establishing how they should communicate their busy weeksto you
- Checking in regularly
- Understanding people are Zoomed out—making short check-ins or email when possible at times
- Weekly meetings and daily written check ins—hybrid between written and video check ins
- Try to make check-ins human! Ask them about their day, tell them to send you a meme if they weren’t able to get things done. Overall, remote work for students can make them feel detached so anything you can do to make remote communication more “human” is great!
- Setting up milestone and MVP meetings, as well as communication with your PI if you are not the faculty supervisor.
Project and duty scoping
- Plan the project with the remote or hybrid structure in mind
- Make sure there are sufficient and appropriate duties for remote or hybridstudents
Project and duty scoping tips
- Have an MVP that can be accomplished with less hours of effort a week than they are estimating to work—and then a tier above that with more hours per week (for semester)—this is extremely important to have, especially when remote since students may have less access to help and have more distracting work environments and since things go wrong in research and can take students more time
- Adding variety to the duties of the UROP when possible to make the remote work less of a slog and to help you not be too overwhelmed with planning:
- Literature review
- Sending them to relevant talks
- Trying new tools that you don’t have the time to test and evaluate yourself
- Adding this variety adds more dimensions to mentorship
Flexibility, adaptability, and empathy
Depending on the circumstances that warrant remote UROP work, it is very important to be extra flexible, mindful, and empathetic to our supervisees. Remote or not, it is important that our UROP students feel engaged and supported.
Tips for Maintaining flexibility, adaptability, and empathy
- Setting the norm that things will go wrong and deciding how to communicate and handle these situations
- Can you reframe things as a learning experience?
- Can you scope down work if they are too overwhelmed?
- Is a colleague working with undergrads too and do they have any insight as towhat is and isn’t working?
- Be kind to yourself and students
- Supervising is hard, supervising during a pandemic is harder, so always be kind to yourself.
- It is going to take everyone a while to adjust to life after the pandemic
Community and mentorship
Try to make your student feel comfortable and part of the lab group, as well as mentor them as a whole person regarding their goals and passions in the field, not just in day-to-day supervision tasks
Tips for building community and maintaining mentorship
- Group meetings: Inviting them to group meetings if possible and ok with your PI
- Coffee chats/other group members: Are there colleagues that you can introduce them to for a coffee chat since they will be having less interaction with them in these remote times? Are there ways for you to allow your student to present at your laboratory or department?