Jan 27, 2013
92
1
Midwest
Status
Pre-Medical
Hello,

I will be applying to medical school in June, and currently looking for a gap year job that pays a living wage. I'm looking in Boston, Philadelphia, NYC, and surrounding areas. I realize these are expensive cities, but I do have some money saved that could cover living expenses at least for a few months. I'm mostly looking to get experience before medical school, but I do want to be compensated. I'm not looking to volunteer myself. Does anyone have tips on applying to Research Assistant jobs in these cities? I've been looking at the hospital job search engines, and there seem to be a number of positions posted every week. How hard is it to get interviewed and what is the competition like? I've seen postings on SDN by people saying that RA jobs can be very hard to come by. I don't have extensive research experience, but have assisted on two different research projects for several months each. These didn't involve benchwork though. I'm currently working in a clinic, but there's no research involved. Thank you in advance for any helpful responses.
 

OwlPower22

Owllpathic
5+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Feb 16, 2012
314
0
the zoo
Status
Pre-Medical
Hello,

I will be applying to medical school in June, and currently looking for a gap year job that pays a living wage. I'm looking in Boston, Philadelphia, NYC, and surrounding areas. I realize these are expensive cities, but I do have some money saved that could cover living expenses at least for a few months. I'm mostly looking to get experience before medical school, but I do want to be compensated. I'm not looking to volunteer myself. Does anyone have tips on applying to Research Assistant jobs in these cities? I've been looking at the hospital job search engines, and there seem to be a number of positions posted every week. How hard is it to get interviewed and what is the competition like? I've seen postings on SDN by people saying that RA jobs can be very hard to come by. I don't have extensive research experience, but have assisted on two different research projects for several months each. These didn't involve benchwork though. I'm currently working in a clinic, but there's no research involved. Thank you in advance for any helpful responses.

Paid RA positions are indeed difficult to come by. I will give some advice for NYC hospitals, but I assume Boston and Philly have similar situations. You will end up applying to at least 6 or more positions at each hospital, depending on how large the hospital is, and you will end up with either 1 or no responses. During the first year of my gap year, I've applied to way more positions than I can count, and ended up with maybe three interviews total. On average, the full-time jobs pay about $15/hr or less, which is incredibly difficult to live on in an expensive city like NYC. The RA's I worked with all tutored on the side to make extra money for rent and food. I suggest you apply to positions at the major teaching hospitals (in NYC, these are Columbia-NY Presbyterian, NYU, and Mount Sinai), because positions are abundant. Sure, they don't pay well, but the experience you gain is invaluable.
 

sinombre

carboloading
7+ Year Member
May 20, 2012
9,502
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I think this is probably school-dependent, but all of the research jobs at the school I work at will get anywhere from 40 to 60+ resumes for a single position over the course of a couple weeks. I'm guessing it's pretty similar for research jobs at most medical schools. They are definitely super competitive, but at least getting interviews shouldn't be terribly difficult with a decent resume/cover letter. It's selling yourself better than all of the other interviewees that's the tricky part (since you're all competing for a single position). If anything it'll be good practice for medical school interviews though. Good luck!
 

OwlPower22

Owllpathic
5+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Feb 16, 2012
314
0
the zoo
Status
Pre-Medical
I think this is probably school-dependent, but all of the research jobs at the school I work at will get anywhere from 40 to 60+ resumes for a single position over the course of a couple weeks. I'm guessing it's pretty similar for research jobs at most medical schools. They are definitely super competitive, but at least getting interviews shouldn't be terribly difficult with a decent resume/cover letter. It's selling yourself better than all of the other interviewees that's the tricky part (since you're all competing for a single position). If anything it'll be good practice for medical school interviews though. Good luck!
The RA position I'm doing right now had 200 applicants in three days. That being said, it's at a major medical cemter, so go figure. O_O
 

sinombre

carboloading
7+ Year Member
May 20, 2012
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The RA position I'm doing right now had 200 applicants in three days. That being said, it's at a major medical cemter, so go figure. O_O
:eek: for a single position? Wow, that's absurd. I guess it would benefit the OP to seek out the positions that aren't well advertised, if that's possible. You really do have to be as strategic as possible when the market is as saturated as it is.

OP, did you work in a lab in undergrad (i.e. can your PI call a few friends/colleagues and help you find something)? Do you have any friends doing paid research? Having connections/any sort of foot in the door can be a huge help.
 

CC8897

5+ Year Member
Feb 1, 2011
37
26
Status
Pre-Medical
:eek: for a single position? Wow, that's absurd. I guess it would benefit the OP to seek out the positions that aren't well advertised, if that's possible. You really do have to be as strategic as possible when the market is as saturated as it is.

OP, did you work in a lab in undergrad (i.e. can your PI call a few friends/colleagues and help you find something)? Do you have any friends doing paid research? Having connections/any sort of foot in the door can be a huge help.
This. I have one of these jobs in Boston, but I began applying in Feb of my senior year, and didn't even have my first interview until late May. Defintely talk to friends/professors to see if you can find a connection to pass around your resume. Every opening in our department is immediately flooded with ~100 nearly identical applications, so having someone to put your app on the top of the pile would be a big help.
 
Jun 20, 2012
19
0
Status
I work in a neuro/vision lab as a research assistant with some patient contact in Boston and will be leaving in May. Feel free to PM me if that's what you are looking for.
But yea you need to know people to get these kinds of jobs from what I understand.
 

LGreen89

Removed
Nov 14, 2012
16
0
Status
I work in a hospital in Boston, but I live nearby with my family so I still had housing and stuff while I was sending out my cover letters and CVs. All told it took me about 4 months of emailing basically every job that opened up during that time. In the end I gave up and emailed some guy to volunteer in his lab... and he consequently offered me a full-time job. I got lucky (PS he and my mother both immigrated to the US from the same country, so he liked me right away...VERY lucky)

So basically I guess the moral of the story is that applying for jobs sucks your soul away (not unlike applying for medical school), and connections win out every day of the week.
 
Nov 21, 2012
645
317
Status
If you're only going to be working there for 1 year, it will be nearly impossible to find a position unless you're an all star candidate. DO NOT lie about your intentions. It's possibly the scumiest thing you can do and you'll be burning a major bridge. Even for a 2 year position it's tough. My advice is to utilize any connections you have to the fullest extent possible and think about what makes you stand out. For me, I emphasize the fact, in addition to interpersonal skills and a molecular biology background, I have very good quantitative/statistical/computer skills (since I was a math major). I think that aspect is what's given me success in finding PIs willing to talk to me about positions.
 

OCDOCDOCD

5+ Year Member
May 26, 2012
1,607
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To be clear, we're talking about lab tech jobs, right? Not some sort of position in a hospital that goes by the same name as the BA/BS-level researcher in a science lab?

They're not THAT hard to get. Granted it took me 7 months to find my RA job, but that was because there were barely any openings in my state, most of which weren't in my field. You have to realize that the typical applicant for an RA position is someone who doesn't have a chance at getting into grad school/med school/whatever school and is trying to catch up for all the slacking off they did in college. As a result, if you're one of the rare applicants that actually was intending to apply to grad/med school in college but decided to hold off for whatever reason, you'll breeze straight through the competition.

Just be aware that many labs don't want to hire someone who won't be there for at least two years (it'll take about a year to train you so they want some return on their investment, not to mention things go smoother when you have the same people working on a project from start to finish). Also, I would recommend against trying to live in an expensive area when working as a tech. Commute if you have to, or better yet find a job that isn't anywhere near a city.