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Need advice on getting a research assistant job!

  1. Sep 13, 2011 #1
    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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  3. Sep 13, 2011 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    I'm afraid not.
     
  4. Sep 13, 2011 #3
    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.
     
  5. Sep 13, 2011 #4

    Choppy

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    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.
     
  6. Sep 13, 2011 #5
    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?
     
  7. Sep 13, 2011 #6

    Vanadium 50

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    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?"
     
  8. Sep 13, 2011 #7

    Pyrrhus

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    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.
     
  9. Sep 13, 2011 #8

    eri

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    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.
     
  10. Sep 14, 2011 #9
    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.
     
  11. Sep 14, 2011 #10
    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!
     
  12. Sep 14, 2011 #11

    Vanadium 50

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    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)
     
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