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As an undergraduate researcher, what you get out of the experience depends on you as much as your research mentor. To help you derive the greatest benefit from your research adventure you may be interested to download all or some of the tools below. Each tool is designed to improve communication with your research advisor or help you to organize your activities.
You have found a research position! Congratulations! We highly recommend that once you have been accepted as an undergraduate researcher that you bring a copy of the Mentor-Scholar agreement to discuss with your faculty mentor. This document will help to establish the expectations on both sides and will get you off to a good start! Remember open and straightforward communication is the key to a great advisor-student experience!
Students often become discouraged in the search for a research position because they have sent many e-mails to faculty and have gotten no replies. Take heart! Your letter may not have reached them. They might be out of town. But often the reason for lack of response is something that can be fixed by using proper business communication etiquette. See the following examples of good and bad letters so you can learn how to write a better letter of inquiry to a potential employer.
You want to make the most of your undergraduate research position and get an excellent letter of reference. Although not all mentors require one, it can be very helpful to provide them with regular Progress Reports. These can really help you to inform your mentor (who might not be the person you work with each day) of what you have been doing, so they get a better sense of how hard you work, your ability to problem solve, your creativity, your leadership, and any other number of adjectives that employers and graduate schools like to see in letters of recommendations. Surprise your advisor by turning one in regularly even if they didn’t ask!