tomfooleries

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Hello--

I've been reading through the forum for a few weeks, and it seems like a great place to ask for some mentor-like advice. So, here goes..

I am seeking an RA position to enhance my applications for a PhD in Clinical Psych. I have very little research experience from undergrad--a professor and I hardly skimmed the surface of some questions she had re: the effects of being laid off as a middle-manager in the business world, and I had re: college students' perspective on how they'll fare in the work force. I graduated with a 3.9, and have spent the two years since doing ABA therapy/art therapy/group therapy with autistic/asperger children.

I had one interview for an RA position at Yale. No dice. I have been applying to large universities that have the funding to take on RAs, but to no avail. Just wanted to see if anyone had advice for me on how to move forward--i.e. where else to look for RA positions, how to sell myself as a good candidate, what I should be looking for in a position, etc.

Thanks in advance.
--Bryant
 

Thrak

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Are you looking specifically for clinical-related things? If not, that opens up your options a bit more. I've had RA positions at two VA hospitals, and two different vision-focused research institutes. I also worked in marketing research, which is essentially consumer psychology.

Actually, I'd recommend VA hospitals for certain kinds of RA experience (PTSD seems to be big right now), but obviously not for child-psych related research.
 

NewPsychStudent

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Cold-calling-----plain and simple. I was in your position a year ago and just decided to e-mail as many professors around the country as possible with my C.V and follow up with a call. I was lucky enough to get an R.A. postion at a Chicago University. I made over 10/hr, but the real value is what you are able to put on your C.V. in the end. I cannot stress this enough, cold-calling works. The field of psychology is just like everything else---getting your name out there and networking is the way to go.
 
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tomfooleries

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Helpful responses, thank you.

Have any of you found a personal statement to be necessary, or helpful, in the application process?
 

Ollie123

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Personal statements are generally unnecessary for RA jobs (though obviously for grad school). Usually just CV and a short cover letter.

The above advice is good, but many of the places you must commonly look to for these sorts of jobs (e.g. MGH, Stanford, Western, etc.) are quite competitive. They can be quite hard to get into with limited research experience since they usually have a sizable pool of people who DID do a great deal of research as an undergrad.

Generally, you need a fair bit of volunteering time in RA jobs (most people will have 1-2 years of about 10 hours a week volunteering) before you can get paid so I might look into doing that on the side in addition to your current job while looking for paid positions.

Networking is key, but that kind of goes without saying. Persistence is also key:)

Given your somewhat limited research experience I'd also focus on labs that might utilize your current skillset. In other words, labs doing neuroimaging of alcoholics, probably not a good choice (no harm in sending in a CV, but don't bank on it working out), but labs that are say, coding behavioral data from videotaped therapy sessions with autistic kids...bingo. They'd probably love to have you even if you are somewhat limited in "true" research experience. You probably know the researchers doing that kind of work better than I do, so look up the "big names" you always hear, and then you can always cold call/email to see if they have any opportunities. You can also check CRISP to see if they have any NIH funding (just google CRISP and it should pop up) - they can have grants from other sources too, but its a nice quick check and NIH is by far the most common funding source for clinical grants that are large enough to hire staff.
 

ArthenaDent

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Cold-calling for sure. Also, see if you can get your undergraduate supervisor as a reference, and try applying to work with his/her colleagues. I currently have a rockin' RA position at a top-notch lab, and a major factor in getting this job was having the recommendation of my undergraduate research supervisor, whom my current bosses knew and respected. It also helps if you're willing to move to wherever the job is :)
 

PsyTiger

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If paid RA positions are hard to come by in your area, I would recommend volunteering as an RA with a POI at your local university to gain some experience, make some research connections, and bone up on your SPSS. It will be something to put on your resume, and chances are a position might open up within that lab (and they always prefer to hire from within) or your POI might know someone who is looking to hire in the future. You might as well gain experience, if not money while you're waiting for the ideal position! Good luck!
 
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