Mar 26, 2010
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Pre-Psychology
Hello all,

I am about to graduate undergrad and have just received my first job offer- it's a research coordinator job. I am 100% applying to clinical psych PhD programs in 2 years. Here's what I would be doing in this job. I would love your input- will this job look good for grad schools in terms of research experience? If not, why not and what should I be looking for?

Research Coordinator
Topics: Veterans, PTSD, traumatic brain injury, neuropsych testing.

Duties:
*MULTIPLE opportunities to be part of publications, poster presentations, chapters, etc. I know this is very very very important. BUT...
*PREDOMINANTLY administrative work
*Will be first go-to person for the PI
*Will act as a supervisor to the other RAs. I will teach them to administer neuropsych tests (I have had fair amount of experience in neuropsych testing).
*Scoring and rescoring neuropsych assessments
*Some but not extensive chances to actually administer assessments
*Maintaining study binders
*Dealing with IRB
*Writing up scoring guide, revising operations manuals

Please let me know what you think. I wanna do everything as perfectly as I can to make sure I can get into grad schools in two years. Does this work sound too administrative? I mean I know that's a lot of what research is but I need some opinions.

THANKS SO MUCH!!!
 
Mar 8, 2010
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Psychology Student
That is essentially what my research job has been for the past 2 years (except I have gotten no publications) and I was incredibly successful-9 interviews, 5 acceptances (including UCLA). All that administrative stuff is important for research studies! Just make sure the research is something you are interested in for graduate school, or closely related.
 
Nov 28, 2009
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Pre-Psychology
That is essentially what my research job has been for the past 2 years (except I have gotten no publications) and I was incredibly successful-9 interviews, 5 acceptances (including UCLA). All that administrative stuff is important for research studies! Just make sure the research is something you are interested in for graduate school, or closely related.
Yes, this is the type of job you should take. In fact, added perks (in my opinion) include supervising RA's and the pub. opportunities (assuming those truly materialize).

And I second the advice about the research area. If you don't have an interest in TBI/PTSD, etc. then you MAY want to look for something in your area of interest. That being said, this is a tough job market/economy ... you can pivot when you eventually apply to school; the most important thing to get out of the position is the experience doing research (seeing the IRB process unfold, tracking participants, data review, quality assurance, etc.). Those skills are tranferable to other populations/research areas. However, you will have to work harder to persuade a grad program that you were doing PTSD work and now you want to do bi-polar disorder, for example. You may have to do a volunteer gig on the side in your area of interest, or informally work your way into your preferred lab (you know, the team down the hall doing the stuff you REALLY want to do.).

Sounds like you're well on your way to be a competitive applicant!

Good Luck!
 
May 25, 2009
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Pre-Psychology
This is a *perfect* job to take as prep for clinical psychology grad school. I'm just finishing up a 2-year tenure doing a very similar position, and I was able to get into the Ph.D. program of my choice. No gaurantees but I can't imagine anything better on paper. Go for it!
 

Featheredwyngs

7+ Year Member
Jan 12, 2010
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Psychology Student
However, you will have to work harder to persuade a grad program that you were doing PTSD work and now you want to do bi-polar disorder, for example. You may have to do a volunteer gig on the side in your area of interest, or informally work your way into your preferred lab (you know, the team down the hall doing the stuff you REALLY want to do.).
Yes and no. I've been working as a full time RA doing PTSD research and applied to research programs with an interest in doing self-injury/suicide research. I think I had one sentence in my personal statement that acknowledged the change and made a slight link between them (and maybe two more sentences which touched on why I was interested in self-injury etc). But pretty much all I had to do was state that although I was interested in PTSD research my real interests lay in self-injury and highlighted practical things I learned from this job that would apply broadly. [Even at interviews faculty didn't ask me why I had done RA work in a different area. Granted, I had some basic undergrad. RA work with self-injury, but nothing outside of that.] I don't feel that I had to work hard to persuade them and had very good results... but I'm sure it could be harder in other areas of research.

I felt that what most programs were looking for (in terms of full time RA positions) were positions that would train you to be a good researcher (grant writing, IRB, etc. etc.).

So as others have said - this sounds like the perfect job position to prepare you for applying to and going to graduate school (specifically Clinical Ph.D. programs or programs which are committed to research).
 
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Mar 26, 2010
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Pre-Psychology
Wow thank you so so much. I feel much more confident about this.
As for the publications, yes assuming it materializes. I was told that it's about how much effort I put in. If I want the pubs, I'm gonna have to be persistent in my effort. However, the PI I am working for apparently is very eager to help out her RAs so that's good and I am gosh darn motivated too :D

It's funny a lot of you commented on the pros and cons of doing work outside your area of interest (despite the fact that I didn't mention that I wasn't interested in the topic). Well, I am interested in it but I am also interested in other topics such as schizophrenia. I am hoping the neuropsych stuff would be able to translate well into that topic since a lot of neuro stuff is done with schizophrenia.

Anyways, I'd love to hear more from other people, but if not, thanks again VERY much. I can't wait to get involved in the research and clinical psych world!!
 

Featheredwyngs

7+ Year Member
Jan 12, 2010
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As for the publications, yes assuming it materializes. I was told that it's about how much effort I put in.
This is true for a lot of places (even for graduate school I would imagine) - so as long as you're willing to put in the effort and work, you'll be fine.

I am hoping the neuropsych stuff would be able to translate well into that topic since a lot of neuro stuff is done with schizophrenia.
It sounds like it would - and remember, a position like this is meant to help prepare you as well as refine your interests. In two years your interests could change etc. For me, my job helped me to figure out and *define* my area of interest very clearly (which is something that is helpful when it comes to grad. school applications).

I think as long as you have some interest in aspects of the work that you will be doing (I was interested in treatment research, mood/anxiety, etc. etc.) and will do it well, it will be well worth it at the end of the day. And don't be afraid of administrative work, better to get that learning curve out of the way now than in graduate school (again IRBs etc). As others have mentioned before, graduate schools will not expect you to be expert in assessments etc. - they will train you.

If you have more specific questions - I would ask some of the other RA's who currently work there. I would expect that most of them probably apply to graduate school (and that's a good reflection of how well the position prepared them). Good luck!
 

brain hugger

7+ Year Member
Jan 25, 2010
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This is a wonderful opportunity! Neuropsych assessments, publications, supervising others, familiarizing yourself with IRB protocols... all of this will be very helpful. Congrats! :)

Since you're thinking of a Clinical Psych program, a great supplement to your research-focused position would be to volunteer or to do part-time clinical work that will allow you to directly deal with the patient population you're interested in (in more of a therapeutic setting). Prisons, inpatient units, homeless shelters, etc.
 

PsychPhDStudent

7+ Year Member
Sep 5, 2009
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This sounds good. The best predictor of it working for you is what previous RAs have achieved admissions-wise.

(And frankly, most RA jobs are super-administrative, and those admin skills are important!)
 

ygolohcysp

10+ Year Member
Dec 23, 2008
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This is a *perfect* job to take as prep for clinical psychology grad school. I'm just finishing up a 2-year tenure doing a very similar position, and I was able to get into the Ph.D. program of my choice. No gaurantees but I can't imagine anything better on paper. Go for it!
+1!! I have no doubts without my experience from the last two years as an RA (which lead to several publications, presentations, etc.), there is no way I could have gotten into my number 1 school. I HIGHLY recommend this job-- this is a perfect way to make sure this is something you want to do for the rest of your life. And I LOVED my job, the last two years flew by!!

Congrats on finding a great position!!