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How to stand out in your research position

western-blot-testAt MedSchoolCoach, we often work with incredible students who are looking to gain entrance into medical school. One activity they often pursue is research, and in fact, it’s highly desirable to have research on your resume to medical school. Yet, when a huge chunk of students have research on their resume, how can you separate yourself from the pack? Here are some helpful ways:

  • Stand out to your PI

Oftentimes, your principal investigator can make all the difference in a research position. The more exposure you get to him or her, the stronger your LOR will be. It will also allow you to potentially get into their good graces so they can include you peripherally on projects that aren’t directly yours as well as potential publications!

  • Get Published (or at least present)

While getting a publication or two can make a significant impact on the application, you’ll realize quickly in research this isn’t always possible. Good, quality research takes years to get to a point where it is ready to be published at times. Yet, you want to improve your application! So how can you do this? Think about getting some initial data and then possibly putting it together for a poster presentation. Even if that poster presentation is at your school, it will look good to get on the application. This is where your PI can really help you. If there are national meetings that are good to present at, they could tell you that for your particular work (again, why it’s important to stand out to your PI!). Ask him or her if there are any meetings they think you can possibly present the work at.

  • Be able to explain things non-technically

Obviously understanding the technical aspects behind your research is important, but perhaps most important is to be able to explain those technical aspects in your application in language anyone can understand. Get an idea of what the overall function of your lab is so that you can put it on your medical school application in a way that anyone can understand.

  • Take it slow at first
One of the best ways to make an impact in a lab is to NOT go into the lab saying you want to present everything and get papers only. You want to learn, contribute, be a part of the team! Take a few weeks/months to get acquainted, work hard and make a good impression on the PI and other lab members. After that, you can approach him or her and say you would be really interested in helping on any papers (don’t worry if you aren’t first author) or possibly presenting the research at some point. Taking these small steps is better than rushing in there!