I'm trying to get into grad school (aren't we all), and it's looking like I'm going to have to take another lap and study a bit harder for pgres this time around. In the mean time, it would only make sense to rack up some research experience. My BS in physics last year came from a very small liberal arts school, and as a result I had very little research going on throughout undergrad. I didn't get accepted to any REUs, and the only internship I had was working at the local city's science center for a summer. Now, I did have seminar classes, where students held 20-40 min presentations of individual research for 3 semesters, and I also had advanced lab courses and a SCE or senior research project, but I figure everyone likely has these types of research across the board during undergrad. But I seem to be lacking in all of this publication-type business everyone seems to be generally equipped with off the bat.
I've been working for 7 months now as a lab technician for a huge metals company, doing grunt lab work and research at their world headquarters for research/technology, which was conveniently located close to me. I'm performing and designing experiments weekly, working mostly with engineers and some chemists, but I'm still just a technician, pretty much the lowest on the rung it feels like.
My question is, is this experience worth anything? It seems like most other applicants have co-published articles at various labs during undergrad, or buddied up with their professors and helped out with their research, but the most that I have been able to find up to this point is this technician work. Should I keep at it for another year? Or should I try to do summer research at a university nearby? It would probably be unpaid, and I’m not making bad money as a technician, but I’m most concerned about my future, not about money right now. I’ve learned a lot about scientific methods within industry, and I would be applying for CME for grad school. I’m just worried that I’m not putting my time to good use.