Need advice on getting a research assistant job

In summary, the conversation discusses the possibility of a recent graduate with a Bachelor's Degree in Physics obtaining a job as a research assistant before pursuing further studies. The conversation also addresses the likelihood of professors hiring a non-graduate student as a research assistant and provides advice on finding such positions through networking and utilizing resources at the alumni school. It is noted that while these positions may not be common, they do exist and can be beneficial for gaining experience and boosting one's CV. The conversation concludes with a discussion on the limitations and challenges of obtaining funding for further studies.
  • #1
Tasell
9
0
Hi,

I have just got my Bachelor's Degree in Physics. I would like to pursue a career in Physics, preferably in the field of quantum technology or nanoscience. Right now, I can't continue my studies due to financial reasons and family problems. So, I'm thinking of getting a job first as a research assistant, which will allow me the opportunity to still learn and establish myself, and also save me some money to continue my studies. Most of what I can find for the position is for postgraduates. So, my question is: Do professors usually hire a research assistant who is not pursuing a degree and has only finished undergraduate? If yes, how do you go about doing it? Do you just contact the professors and ask for a position? Can someone give me some advice or suggestion please?
 
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  • #2
Tasell said:
Do professors usually hire a research assistant who is not pursuing a degree and has only finished undergraduate?

I'm afraid not.
 
  • #3
Vanadium 50 said:
I'm afraid not.

Actually it really isn't *that* uncommon. My lab had a couple of "post-bacs" when I was a student. A good place to look are the national labs, as well as universities.
 
  • #4
I would say a lot can depend on the specific skills that you can bring to the game, and of course, what's needed at that time. In general, it's more advantageous to have a graduate student do lab work than just a hired BSc, because the grad student has more of a vested interest in the outcome of the project. This may not be the case in situations where you need someone to stick around for several years and developign some specific skills.

These kinds of positions are best found through networking. Start by talking with your professors and figuring out if anyone has anything available or if they know of anyone looking. Don't be afraid to look outside of your field either.
 
  • #5
Vanadium 50 said:
I'm afraid not.

Hmm. That's unfortunate, because at my undergraduate school we had several students in between undergraduate and graduate studies working in labs with professors. My undergrad program was very intense and most (including me) needed a break from classes after graduation.

Vanadium 50, where did you get your information?
 
  • #6
First, the question was "usually". The answer to that is no. This is not usual. If the question were "does this ever happen", the answer would be different.

Second, if a professor were to hire an RA who was not a graduate student, he would have to explain why to his department and his funding agency, neither of whom will like this. They both will have the very reasonable question, "Your job is to educate students; why are you paying this person when you could be taking on a student instead?"
 
  • #7
I agree with Vanandium on this. If you want to become a research assistant, why don't you become a graduate research assistant? It doesn't has to be a PhD, you could do a Master's.
 
  • #8
I also agree with Vanadium; I've only seen it happen once. And considering the person was paid as much as a grad student (less than 20k a year) and expected to work as much as one (60 hour weeks) they weren't even making close to minimum wage. Not really a good plan unless you're getting something useful out of it, like a PhD.
 
  • #9
Vanadium 50 said:
First, the question was "usually". The answer to that is no. This is not usual. If the question were "does this ever happen", the answer would be different.

Second, if a professor were to hire an RA who was not a graduate student, he would have to explain why to his department and his funding agency, neither of whom will like this. They both will have the very reasonable question, "Your job is to educate students; why are you paying this person when you could be taking on a student instead?"

I'm not claiming that it's common among other schools than my previous school. It is unfortunate that that's your experience, Vanadium 50. Many of my classmates could not handle going straight from our undergrad program to graduate studies because they were burned out. My alumni does things a little differently in terms of support after you graduated from undergraduate studies.

Would these positions be permanent? Of course not. They were usually only for one semester and paid $8-10/hr. Also, they were part time positions which were 10/hrs a week usually worked only two days a week. They weren't breaking the funding bank over helping some burnt out alumni, I can guarantee that.


To the OP: I would talk to some professors at your alumni school and see what they can do.

P.S. - I also find it unfortunate that you only refer to professors as males. There are some great women professors out there, Vanadium 50.
 
  • #10
Pyrrhus said:
I agree with Vanandium on this. If you want to become a research assistant, why don't you become a graduate research assistant? It doesn't has to be a PhD, you could do a Master's.

Ideally, yes, I would choose to do a Master's, and so on. But the thing is, I can't because my family isn't doing well financially and grants/fundings are very limited for overseas students in the UK. My parents have long opposed my decision to study Physics, so now seems like the perfect chance for them to kick me into employment in other fields (or my worst nightmare, banking). So far, I've only found one scholarship I can apply for, but the chance of me getting it does not look very good. An RA position will certainly boost my chance, and also good for my CV. I've received a reply from a professor working in quantum technology. He seems interested, saying he would contact me this week. But I haven't heard anything back as of now *sigh*

But anyway, thank you everyone for your replies!
 
  • #11
SophusLies said:
IThere are some great women professors out there, Vanadium 50.

Yes there are. But it doesn't change my advice. (And if you look at all my posts, you will see that I alternate genders)
 

What qualifications do I need to become a research assistant?

To become a research assistant, you typically need a bachelor's degree in a relevant field such as biology, chemistry, or psychology. Some research assistant positions may also require a graduate degree or previous research experience.

Where can I find research assistant job openings?

You can find research assistant job openings through a variety of sources, such as job search websites (e.g. Indeed, LinkedIn, Glassdoor), university career centers, and professional organizations in your field. Networking with professors and colleagues can also help you learn about potential job opportunities.

What skills are necessary to be a successful research assistant?

Some key skills necessary for a research assistant include strong analytical and critical thinking skills, attention to detail, time management and organization, and the ability to work independently and as part of a team. Additionally, proficiency in relevant research methods and software may also be required for certain positions.

How can I stand out in my research assistant job application?

To stand out in your research assistant job application, highlight any previous research experience, relevant coursework or skills, and any publications or presentations you have contributed to. It can also be helpful to tailor your application materials to the specific research project or department you are applying to.

What can I expect in a research assistant job interview?

In a research assistant job interview, you can expect to be asked about your relevant experience, skills, and knowledge in the field. You may also be asked about your research interests and how they align with the project or department you are applying to. Be prepared to provide specific examples of how you have demonstrated key skills and to ask questions about the research project and team.

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