Finding the Right Research Professor
Choose a research professor wisely
Don’t choose a professor for research just based on prestige and fame, unless that is all you care for. If you don’t care about you, your sanity, and your vitality, then don’t read this article. Keep doing you. This article is for those who don’t want to lose themselves and/or experience mental health issues just because they want to strive in college.
I’ve had multiple research opportunities that I turned down in college. I am so glad I did. When the professor isn’t a good match with you as a person, that relationship isn’t worth it. The connections to be gained. The research to be done. None of it is worth-it if it requires being with a professor for a long period of time, thus sacrificing you.
Let me explain. As someone who has learned a lot about themselves and their mental health thanks to pain and suffering in college, you should know that being around the wrong professor can set you on fire.
Let’s say a professor is condescending, sexist, and actually acts out both. Do you want that person in your life? Heck no, right? So why would you pursue a research opportunity with someone who is going to be condescending and sexist towards you. Even if you are desperate for research, I am telling you now that the professor is going to break. you. down.
I fell into that trap. I thought that a specific professor in a certain industry would teach me what I needed to know when I entered that world. Welp, not only did they not teach me anything, they were just a condescending, abusive moron to me. The damages they did were irreparable for years until recently.
Let me give you an idea of what it’s like: a professor texts you 7 days a week to insult you in all ways possible with many of it being a slander of your character and absolutely untrue. “You need to lose weight.” “You are jealous I gave x a job opportunity, right?” “Get it together.” “You are obsessed with money.” That one relationship with that professor showed me that some people are living up in their heads and seeing you in all the ways they want to see you. For that person, they showed it to me with their every action. Thankfully, I have a record of all of it because I am sick and tired of people believing none of this is true just cause they experienced rainbows and unicorns in college.
Don’t say you can build boundaries. With that professor, I stopped answering the texts. What do they do? They start getting their students to talk to me. Ridiculousness. When someone is abusive and fucked up, they will stay that way. You don’t want a research opportunity with such a professor. You are going to be in their vicinity so much more often just for that research job. You are putting yourself up for pain. Not worth it.
With another research opportunity I turned down, I experienced a professor caught up in their head too. That professor held beliefs that put certain groups of people in a bad light. I didn’t identify. After several conversations with that professor, I quickly realized those beliefs shaped them greatly. In other words, if I were to do research with that professor, I am going to be hearing about those beliefs, stories, and experiences all the time. Inevitably, I may hold such belief myself and attract such experiences.
Think to yourself. That example above might just be an issue of differences. “Suck it up! Get the research experience! Who cares about the person?” you may think. I’m telling you now - who you are around will inevitably define you. Repetition of stories and beliefs will get to you.
That professor you want to do research with - make sure you know who they are and that you want to be around them for an extended period of time. Don’t jeopardize yourself just for an opportunity. That opportunity is nothing compared to preserving you.