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Working Full Time & Trying to Obtain Research Experience ?


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Hi All! 

So I am a online master's student at Arizona State University for my MS in psychology. I would love to move on to get my phD or psyD, however, I have ZERO research experience under my belt. I know that in order to even be considered for such a program, I need to obtain research experience for a year or two. The issue I have at hand is I also work full-time. I work a solid 8-5, M-F. The good news is that there's a university right across the street from my job, I'm just wary of any professors willing to take on a volunteer master student from another university with such limited availability. 

Also quitting my job is not a choice. I have way too many expenses I pay for living in San Diego, California. 

If anyone has any tips or suggestions and has gone through a similar situation as myself, please let me know. 

Thanks! 

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9 minutes ago, amazoniangoddess said:

Hi All! 

So I am a online master's student at Arizona State University for my MS in psychology. I would love to move on to get my phD or psyD, however, I have ZERO research experience under my belt. I know that in order to even be considered for such a program, I need to obtain research experience for a year or two. The issue I have at hand is I also work full-time. I work a solid 8-5, M-F. The good news is that there's a university right across the street from my job, I'm just wary of any professors willing to take on a volunteer master student from another university with such limited availability. 

Also quitting my job is not a choice. I have way too many expenses I pay for living in San Diego, California. 

If anyone has any tips or suggestions and has gone through a similar situation as myself, please let me know. 

Thanks! 

I'm doing this right now. It's hard to balance everything sometimes, but it's doable. I have been able to gain a couple of conference presentations out of volunteering in labs. However, the best scenario would likely be to find a paid job as a research assistant and to do that full time. For me, there were no opportunities for this in my city at the time that I was seeking experience. Maybe you would have more luck, though :). 

Edited by springxsummer
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2 minutes ago, springxsummer said:

I'm doing this right now. It's hard to balance everything sometimes, but it's doable. I have been able to gain a couple of conference presentations out of volunteering in labs. However, the best scenario would likely be to find a paid job as a research assistant and to do that full time. For me, there were no opportunities for this in my city at the time that I was seeking experience. Maybe you would have more luck, though :). 

There isn't any RA jobs in the city at the moment unfortunately, at least none that pay an adequate amount. Most are unpaid internships, or RA jobs for a completely different field. Thanks so much for the insight, I'll send some emails out and hope that I gain some responses and/or luck. 

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4 hours ago, amazoniangoddess said:

Hi All! 

So I am a online master's student at Arizona State University for my MS in psychology. I would love to move on to get my phD or psyD, however, I have ZERO research experience under my belt. I know that in order to even be considered for such a program, I need to obtain research experience for a year or two. The issue I have at hand is I also work full-time. I work a solid 8-5, M-F. The good news is that there's a university right across the street from my job, I'm just wary of any professors willing to take on a volunteer master student from another university with such limited availability. 

Also quitting my job is not a choice. I have way too many expenses I pay for living in San Diego, California. 

If anyone has any tips or suggestions and has gone through a similar situation as myself, please let me know. 

Thanks! 

In the very least, you may be able to assist with participant screening and administering questionnaires over phone after work. Look up a psychology research lab that’s investigating a topic of your personal interest, then reach out explaining your situation and suggest the possibility for you to help with participant screening and questionnaires over phone in the evenings.

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For those looking for paid opportunities: indeed.com, type in “psychology research” in the keywords and your city/state. Professors with active labs (especially around this time) are known for always posting on there. Also, before applying to any advertised position: Make a competitive cover letter + CV that is in academic format and obtain feedback on those items from a supervisor or colleague.

I found my most recent clinical research coordinator job through there at a very prestigious AMC after my 2nd round of applications. The opportunity allowed me to get clinical research experience and numerous pubs/presentations as well as excellent mentorship from the leaders in my specific field prior to applying last year (for the 3rd time).

If you truly cannot quit your current place of work for financial reasons, cold e-mailing PIs for opportunities about volunteer options (esp. emphasizing your availability in the weekends/evenings) should get you some leads. Best of luck to you.

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11 minutes ago, xxxxxxxxxx said:

For those looking for paid opportunities: indeed.com, type in “psychology research” in the keywords and your city/state. Professors with active labs (especially around this time) are known for always posting on there. Also, before applying to any advertised position: Make a competitive cover letter + CV that is in academic format and obtain feedback on those items from a supervisor or colleague.

I found my most recent clinical research coordinator job through there at a very prestigious AMC after my 2nd round of applications. The opportunity allowed me to get clinical research experience and numerous pubs/presentations as well as excellent mentorship from the leaders in my specific field prior to applying last year (for the 3rd time).

If you truly cannot quit your current place of work for financial reasons, cold e-mailing PIs for opportunities about volunteer options (esp. emphasizing your availability in the weekends/evenings) should get you some leads. Best of luck to you.

I would suggest cold emailing a laboratory manager (or similar) instead of the PI themselves.  We often know more about the day to day operations of the research and may have the authority to make these decisions.  I know that any email of the sort my PI sees gets forwarded to me anyway.

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I agree with other responses to find a paid RA job. I am not sure of your current location within AZ but ASU and U of A have big psych departments. I believe that ASU even has a family studies/human development kind of department separately as well? (If you are looking into clinical, counseling, or developmental route)

1. Like the other posts suggested, directly looking up PIs and their lab webpages will certainly help. I also second emailing the lab manager or at least CCing the lab manager to your email to PI. Profs who are busy doing big research projects (aka have money to hire paid RAs to work on those projects) may often miss your email in the waves of other priority emails.

2. On top of #1, try asking your professors for potential RA opportunities to work for them or their colleagues. I noticed that you are doing online masters so you may not have enough connection with your profs. Still, if there were/are any classes that your did well in and received good feedback on your course work, I don’t see any harm for reaching out to them for any relevant advice, tips, consulting, etc.

3. Use job search portals. I found indeed & higheredjobs to have the best relevant listings of research positions. Also, each university/college has its own job listing page somewhere. Although it lists all sorts of job positions open in the university/college community, you should be able to sort via advanced search to look up research opportunities only.

Hope this helps and good luck!

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