At this point in my physics career, I'm halfway done with the basic, foundational courses and the caluculus sequence. This is the end of my sophomore year and I've done well in classes so far and I have a high GPA, but I know one doesn't become a stand-out physicists just by going to class and getting A's (though obviously learning the material presented in class is necessary). I would like to go to graduate school when I graduate but I hear so many things about what makes an application competitive but the common factor seems to be research experience. I'm at that weird point in my education where I know enough physics to be considered an actual, serious physics student but not enough just yet to be useful in a lab. I've tried asking people over and over what I could do to possibly be an asset to some researcher and I've either gotten no answer or a really vague one like 'Learn to program, I guess'. I talked to my advisor and she was telling me about another student a few years back who worked with a professor in our department during the school year and then decided to go work with some of his colleagues in Heidelberg while studying abroad and taking a few university classes in Germany to boot. This sounds like a fantastic sort of thing that I would love to strive for but the way to it isn't well-defined. It's frustrating because it seems like research while you're pursing your BS is almost mandatory for grad school applications but there's almost no way to actually do it, short of hoping some professor will take pity on you and let you join their team to do work that they didn't really need done anyways. So I suppose my question is, what can I do or learn to get access to some of these amazing undergrad research opportunities (besides the obvious 'do well in your classes')? And I'd be perfectly happy to do them without pay, if that's what it takes. Thank you!