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Responding to a job posting for research assistant

  1. May 11, 2010 #1
    I got a bachelor's degree in physics about five years ago. I since haven't been able to find a job related to physics nearby, and family circumstances have prevented me from relocating or going to graduate school yet. I recently saw a job posting at a nearby state university's physics department (colorado state university) for getting into their open pool for temporary research assistants--they only require a bachelor's degree. They ask for a resume, statement of research experience and interest and contact information for three references. They say you can send the materials to the department or directly to a faculty member.

    I have looked into graduate school in the past so I know a little about statements of research interest and the type of references needed to apply for graduate school, but I'm wondering if the expectations for a position like this would be similar. My only research experience is what I did in my lab classes for my bachelor's and I'm wondering how to best present myself. Specific questions I have:

    1) For the references, are they likely to want people who can attest to my abilities in physics (as when one is applying to graduate school) or would they just want personal and/or work references? The latter may be easier for me to find.

    2) Is it worth mentioning briefly somewhere why I haven't done anything with physics after getting my degree, or is it even an issue for a position like this?

    3) What else could I do to improve my chances? Go to the university and meet a professor whose research I'm interested in?

    Thanks for any advice.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 11, 2010 #2
    The first thing you need to do is to contact someone in the department and see if it is a "real" job posting. It's very common in these situations for a department to already know who they are going to hire and the posting of the job offer is merely a legal requirement.

    Most universities will reserve research assistant positions to their graduate students, so you need to contact someone in the department to see if it is a "real" job opening. The person that would probably have the most information is the department secretary and if they don't know anything about this then, it's probably not a real job opening.
  4. May 25, 2010 #3
    Okay, I called and it is a real posting. Any other advice, especially on what they'd expect for references?
  5. May 26, 2010 #4
    Try to get a recommendation from a professor that is as close to your "target" as possible. For these sorts of reference, they mainly care about your knowledge and ability to do research.

    As far as why you haven't done anything in physics. It's best not to start out being apologetic. I'd not mention it at all. Also if you can get the attention of a professor whose research you are interested in, that's also really useful.
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