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I've been with this particular lab for exactly a year. Recently, I just finished my GRE and is currently in the process of researching schools for the next cycle, etc. I was promised (or told, rather) back in January that I would be "promoted" to a full time position soon. At first, they said it was 5 weeks, then now they say they don't know since HR has a new system sad.gif. Basically, I was given a very vague answer, and was told I'd get an "hourly raise" instead. Obviously, I'm not happy with this because I still have AT LEAST another year until I actually matriculate, and during this time, I still need to pay the bills, buy food, things that require money.

Now my main question is: If you were me, would you stick it out or would you look for an actual full time position? As it stands, I have no benefits. I have no health insurance. [Edit: I'm not under my husband's health benefits from his job.] For the past year, my husband has been paying the rent and have been very patient with my financial situation, but I didn't go to college just to mooch off my husband. I'm debating whether I should apply for another job, of course, one related to my future career goal (I'm not going to quit the lab and be a waitress for the next 2 years). But I worry that it won't look good for me to only be at a lab for a year, then quit, and join another. I've always thought that it's better to have a long term commitment to a few things than to dabble in many things for a short time. HOWEVER, with that said, I do need to actually LIVE until I matriculate. I don't live with my parents, and although my husband won't kick me out, I'm turning 24, I really don't want to depend on someone to pay the rent for me.

Oh yea, and to add to my frustration, I'm pretty much doing 3 people's work for 1 person's pay. I take care of almost every little detail around the lab as an RA. For example, I worked 6 hours, didn't take a break, didn't even have time to eat today on top of having the flu. While other full-time paid graduate assistants sit around doing their classwork and then occasionally coming to me for tiny insignificant questions. They're driving me crazy (I even wrote a post on here about it) and my only redemption is telling myself I'm going to get paid full time. But now that that's out the window, it seems, I really don't think I should be working so hard. Plus, I feel like my PI is playing around with me. It's not that she CAN'T hire me, she seems more like she doesn't want to, since it costs a lot more money for full time than hourly (since hourly's have no benefits).

What would you do?

Edited by cherubie
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Ok, so if you 've been working there for a year, and were told at the start you would be promoted to full time, but werent, why are you still there after a year? I might be misunderstanding the timing of this. I'm not understanding the 5 weeks part. But just going off of the other details you've given, I would ask to meet with your employer to discuss these issues. Question them as to why you haven't been made full time, why you were promised to be made fulltime when you haven't been for x number of months and why you need to have a full time job. Mention that you enjoy working there (if you really do) and would love to be a part of the team but unfortunately if you cannot secure a full time position you will have to move on. Also, mention the increased amount of work you are doing which you believe warrants either more employees to cover the work OR a significant pay increase (not a measly 'we will up you 25 cents) OR a full-time position (let's say the increased hours would make up for increased work -- not sure if this is true in your case or not).

Your employer won't know your situation (necessarily) or the amount of work you are doing etc., unless you speak up for yourself. If you raise all of the points you mentioned which would warrant either a full time position or significant pay increase, and the person says 'sorry no', then I'd give notice. I don't know about you, but i'd rather have food/clothing/shelter before trying to impress a committee for school. I don't think a committee would view you badly for working at a lab for 1 year at all anyways. Tons of people who apply to these programs come straight out of school and have had zero work experience up to that point. There could also be an endless amount of reasons for why you left the lab, so it would be dumb on the part of a committee to assume it was something like 'she wasn't committed enough' and then for them to apply that to your work habits in a grad school setting. If someone does ask you 'why did you leave your job at x-lab?", I don't think there would be any harm in saying that it was conitnuing as a part-time position and my financial situation required me to find a full time position at another lab. People at my work have said that in order to swap jobs within a department and nobody looks down on them. There is rent to be paid!!!

Really weigh your options. Do you really like this job enough to argue for it? Would you be happier somewhere else? How easy would it be to find a job in the area that interests you right now? Would your employer be understanding of your reasoning and still act as a good reference for the future?

If you do go in to have a discussion with your employer, just make sure you don't burn any bridges. If you explain your reasoning behind these questions/requests and basically lay it all out there, you won't have anything to regret afterwards, no matter the outcome.

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Look for something else. You have this and can stay with it if you don't find something else that gives you relevant experience, but there is absolutely no reason not to look for something else. When it comes to research experience, I think it is about having a clue what research is about and perhaps gaining some research-useful skills. If you evaluate which skills you have, and which you don't at the moment that would be useful for the research you want to be doing down the road, see if you can find a position that will let you start to develop those skills you don't yet have.

Side note, grad students are generally half-time employees. Depending on the school they may or may not have decent health insurance because of this designation. I don't want you to have the wrong idea about what you will be signing up for once you get to the grad student stage.

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