This summer I’ve stayed on campus for 8 weeks to do a research project through Warwick’s undergraduate research support scheme (URSS). If you’re interested in reading more about the work I’ve been doing then I have a couple of posts about it here, and here. Last week marked the end of my project, and it’s weird to be back in my room at home writing this, rather than in Cryfield!
I initially decided to do a project as a way to determine whether I wanted to continue with research after university. Lab work was something I’d previously enjoyed as part of my degree, but I was unsure whether a career in research was for me. I’d looked into external research projects and internships with chemical companies, but I didn’t really want to commit to something more serious and competitive if I wasn’t 100% on it. So URSS seemed like a good way to get some experience with the added comfort of still being in the familiar environment of Warwick’s chemistry department.
Considering that I hadn’t really given my project much thought before starting it, it seems strange to me that it’s had such an impact on my degree and future plans. I think I’ve learnt a lot from doing my project. As well as the obvious laboratory techniques, I am now more confident in problem-solving in the lab and also better at carrying on going when a reaction goes wrong! I definitely have more faith in my abilities and I hope that this will help me with my degree.
Due to my project, my plans for the next couple of years have also changed. Since I came to Warwick I’ve been enrolled on the four year chemistry course (MChem) where in their final year students spend half their time doing lectures which lead to exams, and half conducting a research project. However, my URSS project has meant that I’ve been given the opportunity to do a funded research Masters within the group I’ve been working with. This means that I’ll be transferring to the three year chemistry course, will graduate after this year, and then come back as a full-time research student! This means that I won’t have any lectures in fourth year, and my time will be spent doing research in the lab.
I’m not really someone who likes change, especially when it comes out of the blue, so the prospect of changing my degree when I’d had it all planned out for years was a bit daunting. However, it was too good of an opportunity to turn down and I’m really excited to carry on with research! It’s made me realise that so many great opportunities come at the most unexpected times, and it’s definitely a great end to my research project!
If you are thinking about doing a URSS next summer, I would definitely encourage you to just go for it. Even if you’re unsure about research (like I was) it’s a really fun experience, you learn so much, and you never know where it might lead you! My top tip for applying would definitely be to get organised early. Especially for subjects like chemistry where research groups only have the lab space to take on a small number of students (usually only one or two maximum!), it’s crucial to approach the academic you’re interested in working with as soon as you can. This is less of an issue if you have no preference to your area of research, but since I knew I wanted to get experience in inorganic/organometallic chemistry, this narrowed down the academics that I decided to ask about a potential project.
If you’re interested in my project or URSS in general, I’d be happy to answer any questions!