Research as an Undergraduate
Research as an undergraduate student teaches you the power of compounded consistency. It may not be evident then but you slowly realize four years later that the skillset was being built and still is. I had the opportunity of joining the Committee of Fiscal Studies in 2018 and the first step was doing an interview with Stella to assess whether the goals of the committee aligned with my passion and interests. The first lesson there was how to navigate interviews and clearly but authentically sell yourself. Expressing only that which is critical for the role which at the time was tax and gender.
Working in a research think tank also requires a lot of team collaboration and in our case we were young researchers with different interests put together. The lesson there was teamwork and joyfully it came with exchange of information. I learnt about environmental taxes and extractives simply because I had a peer so passionate in the space that could explain their project to me over and over.
Then soon came the tax talks, which was a thrust in the deep end when it came to project management, public speaking, meeting deadlines and navigating social media as a place of information exchange. Some of the people you meet as speakers on this front teach you how to be articulate and how to be keen in area you want to be an expert.
I believe that research is a lifelong process and that is why I am still on the journey but what I would pass on to an undergraduate is that these skills count four years later. I express myself better, I ask questions in the room just because Professor Waris encouraged us. I built my confidence and I have great etiquette as well, my phone is never on the table and my eyes hold great eye contact.
The downside, well there may be long hours that require you to constantly show up. However, every good thing requires work and dedication. On certain days your art will break your heart, you will find yourself having mind blocks. I have found that at this point, you can always diversify your research to find inspiration.