How To Get A SRS (Summer Research Scholarship)
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED 29/11/2017
You've heard about this 10 week summer internship-like job over the break and it's thought to be an awesome introduction to research!? It's as good as it sounds. Here's the general process of getting one within the Faculty of the Medical and Health Sciences. (Different faculties (e.g. SBS, Commerce, Law etc.) have slightly different processes.
What is it? A Summer Research Scholarship (SRS) used to be called a studentship but after the reshuffle of 2015-'16, the Scholarships Office of the University of Auckland took over the organisation of such things. An SRS is a formal arrangement between the University, the supervisor (often a lecturer at the University) and a student to undertake a short 10-week project over the summer break to get a taste of what it's like. You're paid overall a tax-free stipend of $6,000, being supervised by a lecturer and a lot of experience as a result! Note that due to the relatively short time-frame by which this research is taking place, you're usually doing a 'small' job in the bigger picture of the lecturer's research field so you should be supervised quite extensively (this varies from supervisor to supervisor, however) and taught how to use laboratory equipment.
How to get it? Step 1: (at the FMHS - this is not necessarily the same in other faculties) is to get a lecturer to like you enough to 'lock you in' on their project. The usual process is viewing the list of SRS projects available once they become available - check this link out or this link - and emailing a supervisor about your interest. They'll usually ask for your academic transcript which you can obtain from SSO very easily along with a CV of some sorts. If they are interested in you, they'll invite you to have a chat at their office and they'll get back to you and decide of all the students they received interest from, who they'll choose. Note that there is not 'official' process by which this takes place; just a 'handshake agreement' between yourself and the supervisor. Step 2: After you've been successfully selected by a supervisor, they'll (ideally) start helping you draft up your funding application. This funding application was rennovated in 2015 and is now entirely done online through an SSO application for the SRS. (Since it's been changed to a summer research scholarship, you apply as if applying for a scholarship). You're usually required to type up what your project is about etc. Funding application results come out mid-late October. Note that there are two sources of funding (usually). The centrally administered scholarships (i.e. the money came from the University itself) and the FMHS scholarships (i.e. the money came from the Faculty). Both the University as an entity and the FMHS as an entity try to distribute their money evenly across their different departments. E.g. The central University tries to split its money over the different faculties evenly whereas the FMHS tries to split its money over the different schools within the FMHS (e.g. School of Medical Sciences, School of Population Health, School of Pharmacy, School of Medicine, etc.).
Tips to maximise your chances of being accepted:
Choose an area of research you're genuinely interested in! A supervisor is much more likely to want to take you in if you're actually interested in what you're doing!
Talk to them early. If you talk to a supervisor early, it shows that you're actually interested in their topic! You can do this perhaps after a lecture asking them if they'd be interested in taking you onboard.
At least have some inclination to undertake Postgraduate research. Supervisors prefer students who want to do PG research so when they train you up in your SRS, they can keep you on for another year(s) of research. It's just simply more efficient and easier for them.
Be a nice person. Keep in mind that an SRS is 10 weeks and you'll want to find a supervisor you can get along with for 10 weeks. You'll get to know each other's annoying work habits and each other's awesome points as well. You'll go out for Christmas lunches with the rest of the lab and the suchlike. Supervisors are going to choose someone that they'll get along with.
Know people. Get to know the supervisor themselves (which directly contributes to your chance of getting an SRS), other people who work in their lab (e.g. demonstrators are a great place to start when looking for people who work in relevant labs. For example, if you're interested in conducting research in Professor Faull's lab, ask your demonstrators in the 206 labs since they should be neuroscience researchers and even if they aren't themselves in those labs, chances are they'll know people who actually do work in Prof. Faull's lab), and finally, get to know other staff members. Keep in mind that a lot of the teaching staff members work closely with academics when delivering their courses. If you get to know your course coordinators well, they can leave a good word for you and from a supervisor's point of view, getting a double confirmation from someone who they've worked for years with is an added bonus.
Ask the supervisor if they are offering any other SRS's to any other students. Generally speaking, only one SRS is awarded to each supervisor/lab. If your supervisor is offering 2 SRSs, chances are only one will be picked. Make this a discriminating factor when choosing your supervisor!
Obtain the highest GPA as possible. In most cases, GPA is the best indicator for a robotic administration to choose between names.
NB: there may be different requirements for students of Maori or Pacific Island descent as well as international students. Refer to this link for source information.