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summer research


Guest Hilde

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Guest Hilde

for some of us life science students interested in research, what is usually the minimum GPA to be accepted for a research position working for a prof? Some of us would really like to have some research experience, but it seems like a GPA less than a 3.6 is just not helping our chances. Has this ever happened to anyone? I applied to Hospital for Sick Children as well as Mount Sinai (in Toronto, for those not familiar) and other research labs but no luck. Also they prefer people with previous reseach experience, but how can we get research experience if we never get a chance at this experience? Hmmm....

Even for those of us not interested in medicine, research is of utmost importance when you're applying for any grad school.

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Guest UWOMED2005

It totally depends on the prof. Some won't look at you without a 12.0 GPA (out of 4.0 :) ) and others don't care at all. Best way to find out. . . ASK!!

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Guest aneliz

I found that it was best to work with a prof that you know well to start off with - even if the research isn't exactly what you dream of or the lab isn't too glamorous (ie not Sick Kids). That way you can get some experience working in a research environment that you can use to apply for the 'bigger' jobs. Usually if the prof knows you personally, you will find your lower GPA and lack of experience will be less of a hindrance than trying to get into a lab where the prof doesn't already know you.

 

Another way to get experience is to take a lab methods or research course during the school year. Not only is it a good way to learn some lab techniques and research methodologies to use as 'experience', but it is also a good way to meet some grad students (the TA's) that might get you an 'in' with their supervisor for the summer.

 

Good luck!

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the researcher i'm working under this summer actually asked about my grades near the very end of my interview, and didn't really ask details, just get a general idea of my academic standing.

 

i know what you're saying though, it's a paradox - a lot of researchers dont go for people without experience, so how do you get experience

 

it's not impossible though, I somehow got a spot :D

 

oh and to answer your question.. for 1st years I think the concensus is that you need a 3.7+ GPA, and for 2nd year + it's a B+ atleast, so I think that's 3.3 on the GPA scale?

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Guest Jerika81

I got my first research job the summer after I finished high school, but a large part of why I got it was because I was doing it on a volunteer basis, so my supervisors didn't have to pay me. I still worked on the project they gave me from about 9-5 every week day (so I was lucky that I didn't have to be working a paying job at the same time). In the end I got re-hired at the same lab the next summer but for pay. My first year GPA pretty much sucked, but since my supervisors had seen the research I did the summer before and how hard I worked, they didn't care about my grades because they already knew I could get the job done.

So if you want to get your foot in the research door, tell them you'll work for free!!

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Guest therealcrackers

Interest in doing research will carry a lot of weight with supervisors, as will experience. Doing a summer as a volunteer is a great way to get your foot in the door and your hands on a pipette (or a protocol); GPA is important mostly for the competitive funding applications that are submitted in January and February for the following summer (heck, I'm in year 13, I have a PhD and in second year meds, and I had to send my UNDERGRAD transcripts for a funding application this year). NSERC, CIHR, HRDC and SSHRC (depending on your field) all have a minimum standard for their grants; that's where your GPA will kick in. Gee, I hope that bombed orgo course in 2nd year didn't sink my battleship...

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Guest Biochem10

That's good that you've tried applying to the research programs set up by the downtown hospitals, but if you're worried about not getting a spot you should look up investigators on the internet and apply to them directly (by e-mail). I sent out about 30 e-mails to different profs before landing my first lab job (at one point I thought it was hopeless). Once I got my first job more quickly followed. I know my supervisor from last year (he works at Mount Sinai) hired two summer students this year who e-mailed him (not through the Lunenfeld program), so there is a chance someone will get back to you. Unfortunetly, it's a little late to do that this summer (you'll have to start early December, Jan, or Feb.) Actually my supervisor told me that he actually hired a student that contacted him in October because obviously this guy was REALLY ambitious!

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Guest batman

Several good points raised - and i agree with Biochem10 that it's rather statistical in getting replies back from potential supervisors (inquiring through email or in person).

 

Also, take a look at the opportunites at your university. I did two summers of NSERC USRA, and while it wasn't in the most stimulating field of science, its great money (of which the supervisor only pays 25%, which they enjoy), makes for excellent reference letters, and a solid grounding in research + abstracts + publications....and easily helped me land a more glamourous postion this summer through IMS.

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Guest Mephistopheles03

i agree with a previous poster that the best way to get some research experience is to do a supervised study / thesis course during the school year. i did 2 supervised studies in my 3rd year + a full year thesis in my 4th...and while my background was ONLY in behavioural psychology (stayed with the same professor for both years), he gave me a great reference that landed me a position in a neurosurgery lab at Sunnybrook Hospital (Toronto) :)

 

as an added bonus, the majority of students who take supervised study type courses receive / deserve a solid A (so your hard work pays off 2 ways)

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Guest wassabi101

We've hired undergrads here for the last 5 or 6 years and although GPA is one of our selection criteria, it definately isn't the only one or a definitive one. A lot of good points were brought up by previous posters. Here's important points we look at that might help you:

 

1-When did the applicant apply? The earlier the better. Generally, if you apply before March, you're on the first list of interviews.

 

2-Issues of money- some students apply through work-study or to volunteer---we are much less stringent on these students.

 

3-What year you're in--If you're in first-year, I expect much less of you in terms of past experience than if you're a third year student.

 

4-What was your cover letter like? If you have a low GPA (let's say less than 3.3 since that's roughly our cutoff) but write an excellent letter outlining your skills and motivations for the job, then we are much more likely to interview you.

 

5-What past experiences do you have? Were they out of convenience (jobs close to home, first job you could find) or do they reflect a persona of someone who has experience in something they're interested in (albeit it not being in research)?

 

6-What classes have you taken? Generally, we do look at what classes students took and are much more likely to interview a candidate who has a 3.2 but who took art history, sociology, religion...courses than a 3.7 candidate who took bobo courses.

 

7-Lastly, the best advice I could give you is to research the professor you're interested in working in to find out what current projects he's working on and state the research areas you are interest in your cover letter, as well as your strengths that related to this research area. For example:

 

"I am currently completing a BSc in x at McGill University. Although my work experience and publications are in the fields of cardiology and international health, my goal is to learn more about social epidemiology and adolescent health. As such, I am particularly interested in your research on eating disorders in adolescents. Having worked with several ethnic communities, I am also interested in cultural differences and sensitivities to health prevention and promotion."

 

Above, I state where I am, that my work experience might be outside their field of specialty, specifically what I'm interested in and I added a secondary interest outside their field. I then go on to state what this other field of specialty has brought me in terms of skills and how I think these will be beneficial for this current research position. This would be very similar to your situation where you might not have any research experience and have experience instead with office work or summer camps etc.

 

In sum, for every candidate we've looked at, we always ask ourselves, which research project this person could work on. Are they a reliable & organized candidate with experience in managerial/office positions that could work on grants, literature reviews and report-writing? Do they have an interest in computers or accounting such that they could work on the transitional cost system analysis database? Do they have leadership experience (summer camp etc.) that makes them likely to be apt in coordinating a research study? Interest in psychology---interest in pharmaceutical/legal? etc...

 

Hope that helps and good luck! :D

 

-wassabi

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