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Paid vs. Unpaid Positions

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by Psych102, Jun 6, 2008.

  1. Psych102


    Feb 27, 2008

    This is a great forum. I was hoping I could tap the collective wisdom of the group.

    I'm hoping to eventually join a Clinical Ph.D program. I have a very strong academic background, test scores, etc, but as a career switcher, my research experience is not as extensive as many applicants. I know the general area I would like to research; however, I'm coming across few paid opportunities to work in this area.

    My question is as follows: generally speaking, which looks better on a cv -a strong paid position in an unrelated area of research or unpaid work in a closely related area? I assume the answer depends in part on the quality of the volunteer opportunity. However, in general, which is more highly regarded, having paid research experience or having area-specific research experience?

    Secondly, if you're looking to eventually study adults, will child-related research in the same area be viewed as very relevant or a much different area?

    Thanks for your help!
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  3. psychwanabe

    psychwanabe 7+ Year Member

    Mar 4, 2007
    Okay, I'll take my best guesses to answer you since you haven't had any responses yet.

    I would think that experience in a closely related field trumps a paid position in a non-related field. I don't think getting paid for something matters much in the psych lab world. Knowledge of the POIs area of expertise is what helps you get in the door. Having said that, any research is better than no research at all. A lot of us went into grad school from UG labs that really did not relate to our area of interest in grad school.

    What research would you be doing in a child area that is also relevant to adults? I could see where something health related (e.g., cancer) might be somewhat applicable. But the research you do with kids is generally very different than adult research. A lot of it is focused on developmental issues, whereas this area is not a focus for adults. There are exceptions of course but without knowing the field I really couldn't make a good guess about this.

    As always, just my $.02.
  4. Psych102


    Feb 27, 2008
    Thanks - I appreciate it. And to answer your question, I'm interested in eventually studying anxiety, but not necessarily only from the child perspective. I was curious how difficult it is to transition between one and the other.

    I'd love to hear any other opinions, as well, about the paid vs. unpaid dilemma, if they're out there.

    Thanks again!
  5. BorntoRun

    BorntoRun 5+ Year Member

    Nov 6, 2007
    Your CV doesn't need to indicate whether positions are paid, and I would be surprised if anyone asked. For that reason, I think research in the related field would be better. It doesn't need to be the exact same thing (e.g., I think the difference between having previously studied child instead of adult anxiety wouldn't be a huge issue in terms of getting in), but closer is better.

    That said, research experience is research experience. Even if it's not really related, grad schools like to see that you have some experience with research. Which position will give you better connections? Which position will enable you to publish more? And (perhaps quite importantly), can you live on an unpaid position? Could you do the paid one full-time and the unpaid one part-time?

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