Written by: Clarissa Huffman
Sociology Level III
I hope you didn’t think I forgot about you over exams! I admit, this was a harder exam season than most, but I made it through and hopefully you did too!! And now that its over, I’ve decided to write a special Christmas blog on a topic that’s new and exciting to me: the USRA award. Until this year, I’ve never considered the USRA as an option for me – I’ve always pushed it aside as unattainable, something that only my super intelligent peers who have somehow attained straight 12’s could ever hope to be awarded. But this year, in my year of new adventures, I decided to bridge that gap and attend a USRA information session. In this post, I’d like to share with you the things I learned in that session that I didn’t know before, that make the USRA seem a little less daunting and a little more attainable. Something that even you or I, as regular Social Science students with minds brimming full of amazing ideas, can strive for. I’m hoping to apply for one, and if I do, I will chronicle my journey here, and hopefully you will be inspired to give it a shot!!
Here is my list of little-known USRA facts:
*This list is not exhaustive! it is just my reflections from the session! The lovely staff in the EE office can give you much more information, and if you want clarification, PLEASE contact them!!
- the USRA is 15 consecutive weeks of paid research with a supervisor (think mini graduate studies…the perfect stepping stone!)
- as you’re writing your proposal, get feedback from your supervisor. you’ll want to make sure your proposal reflects something that they would be willing to supervise, and you need that signature to move forward!
- make sure you write your proposal in full paragraphs – no charts please!
- you can provide a letter from an organization you will be working with to prove that you have permission to use their facilities for your project, but you do not need/cannot have reference letters included in your proposal
- the USRA is treated as a 35/hour a week salary – you pick your hours, and as long as you hit your 35 hours a week within the 15 consecutive weeks, you’re golden
- your faculty supervisor cannot be a sessional instructor. if you need help selecting a supervisor, or tips on how to approach them, please contact the EE office in KTH 102. They are super friendly and can definitely help you get your questions answered with regards to who an appropriate supervisor might be (as well as any other questions you might have).
- don’t double side your proposal! it makes it difficult for the review committee to read.
- and lastly: make your research meaningful!! what do you hope to learn? why? can anyone else learn from what you do with this research? make sure the committee can see clearly what you hope to learn, and what this research might mean to others. after all, this project is about cultivating research and learning. Learning research skills, communication techniques, etc., but also about making this project worth something! So learn from the process, but also take something away from the research itself.
Stay tuned for my reflections as I proceed through the proposal-writing process. My first step was completed successfully, and I already have professor who has agreed to supervise me should I choose to apply.. yay! As a Christmas present to yourself, you should enrol in an upcoming USRA info session and take the leap to the potential of a new and exciting summer learning experience!