I'm an undergraduate at a research-intensive university and I have received funding with other students to do research. The other students involved in the project are all undergraduates. I'd really like to talk to people outside of the project who do research - not necessarily to 'network' in a formal sense, but to share resources, discuss the progress we've made, etc. We have a supervisor, but I want something more like a peer. The thing is that I don't know how to find people to talk to. I don't know any undergraduates outside of the project who are doing research. The university has many postgraduates, but I feel like an intruder in postgraduate and academic spaces (e.g. research discussion groups, conferences).

It isn't about age; I started my degree as a 'mature student' and I am old enough to be a postgraduate, but there's obviously a hierarchy at universities in terms of how far you are in your education or academic career, and there are some physical barriers between me and postgraduates, too (e.g. they have their own spaces that only postgraduates can access). What should I do? I'm aware of the existence of undergraduate conferences, but it frustrates me that I'm at a university that is very oriented towards research yet I don't feel able to talk to people about it!

  • 2
    You just invite them to hang out. If they want, they will say yes.
    – padawan
    Jun 3, 2017 at 9:12
  • Do you want to talk to people in your university or just you peers in general? If it's the former, you can try approaching them after lectures or seminar talks. If it's the latter use Internet. You can probably find a lot of peers on SE, for example. Lastly, I feel like you should edit your post. Remove all unnecessary information and make your question clear. Jun 3, 2017 at 12:57
  • I wasn't sure which bits were 'unnecessary', sorry. I want to talk to others who are doing research.
    – student21
    Jun 4, 2017 at 6:55

2 Answers 2


In my experience, researchers who are genuinely interested in the same topics as you will be happy to discuss them regardless of whether you're at the same stage of education. Push yourself to attend events that challenge and inspire you, whether they're mainly attended by graduate students or by undergrads, and don't tell yourself that you're an intruder there. Most people won't be thinking about whether you're an undergrad or a postdoc; they'll just be listening to the ideas you exchange. As a graduate student myself, I love working with undergrads who are motivated and excited about research. Of course there will always be some people who think they're above you simply because they have more credentials, but that's their problem, not yours.

Asking people about their own research can be a great entry point since everyone likes to feel that what they're doing is appreciated. Check out a poster session on campus and find a few posters that you're interested in. Eventually you'll start a great conversation with someone. Be patient and don't give up!


Asking people about their work and listening, really listening, will help. Everyone is lonely and even a little scared in academia. But they do tend to be very focused on what they are doing at the moment.

The best thing is to write papers for conferences. That is the game changer. Do the work. Get into the game. If that makes sense. Take every opportunity to present and really do listen to others. Everyone else feels exactly like you!

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