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5+ Year Member
Nov 24, 2010
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Hello everyone,

I will be starting a PhD program in epidemiology this fall and besides 2 undergrad internships, I don't have a lot experience in public health. Since I am entering without a Master's degree, I will essentially complete the MS coursework as a part of the PhD. For this reason, I intend to only work part-time for the first 2 years to help fund my education (along with a relatively minor scholarship) until I complete the MS coursework and hopefully take and pass the qualifying exams to advance to PhD candidacy.

Since I will be entering a PhD program, I feel as though I should definitely find a part-time position that allows me to build more research experience. However, I am not having luck landing a research job yet (no experience with SAS yet...), and I have also interviewed for an assistant community director position (essentially assistant director of a residence hall) that pays in a stipend and free housing in an expensive city. Since I have been working full-time for 2 years in a very demanding job (though unrelated to public health and research), I almost feel like I want a "break" from a difficult/demanding position so that I can focus on my classes. For this reason, I'm almost inclined to accept the assistant community director position if I get it because it seems pretty simple compared to my current position (and it pays better than most part-time research jobs).

BUT, at the same time, I don't want to screw myself over and lose out on an opportunity to gain more research experience while starting the program. My question is: Will taking a job unrelated to my long-term goals just to help fund my education during the first year of the PhD program hurt me? If i do, it would only run until May of my first year and I could even start looking for a job next summer after I perhaps have networked with professors and stuff..

Just looking to see what those of you who have experience job-hunting are thinking about this.... thanks!


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10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Mar 13, 2009
Los Angeles, CA
My personal recommendation is to leave any employment that is unrelated to your future goals (whether that's some combination of research and teaching) aside and only focus on those things that would be worthwhile to put on your CV. If it's not worth putting on your CV, it's not worth spending your time on. Academic and research jobs (post-docs, research fellowships, professor) are extremely competitive, and you want to do everything in your power to set yourself up to succeed which means you should get involved in research right away.

I have no idea what a community director does, but if it has director in the title, I can't imagine it's an inconsequential time commitment. If you can somehow see that this type of position helps build your CV (perhaps you're more interested in higher ed administration than academic research?), then I would say go for it. But anything that takes away from your research time and your studies time, personally ,I think is a determent to your professional development.
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