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Struggling for clinical work, can I even handle it?!


thelatenight
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So here's an interesting story. I hold a BA (major in cognitive science) from a relatively unknown college. I can tell you that my gpa is above average, I completed two senior thesis in two majors, and I held three leadership roles for multiple years while also working part time, and also holding a position as a research assistant. I worked so hard for four years that I had to skip eating meals and stay up all night just to manage all of the work that these opportunities came with. That's okay though, I excelled, and I couldn't be more proud of my accomplishments and determination as an undergrad!

 

As I previously mentioned, I started in research when a PI on campus wanted to develop a new laboratory studying cognition. After 2 years as a research assistant, we had preliminary findings and were presenting at conferences. It has since closed, with the PI leaving. I did a lot of work in the lab, from writing protocols to training new assistants, data analysis, and so forth. I was hoping that this experience would be enough to land me a position as an RA after graduation.

 

I was completely incorrect.

 

Since graduating, I've applied to countless jobs, with under a handful of interviews. I had a great opportunity before the start of the new year to intern with a great group of clinical researchers at a very famous institution, and I have been there since. I've learned how to conduct research in the eyes of a coordinator, and I am excited about all of the knowledge that I have gained! 

I'm still struggling to land interviews, but I understand that it is not an easy process. I understand that I lack the connections that students that attended large research universities have, and I have to wait until I receive an opportunity. I think that there's a greater problem. I think that I am my own roadblock. The process of applying to countless jobs has taken such a toll on me over the last year that I'm actually afraid when someone is interested in me for a position! Even though I've conducted research, and I have been trained by the best research staff that you can imagine, I still feel like I am underqualified, simply because I have observed more than I have performed. As an intern, there are things that I am not capable of doing for liability reasons. I have learned how to do so, but knowing and doing are different. I was also a research assistant in a small school environment. Every time I read a job advertisement, I become afraid. My first thoughts are "Can I even handle these responsibilities? What if I can't do (insert any responsibility)? Is this too difficult for me?" I'll admit that I have neglected to apply to some positions because of these thoughts. It's not only impacting my ability to job search, but it also makes me feel like I have wasted my time and the effort of some amazing people that have tried to build my skill set to help me develop a career in research. How am I supposed to know that I can handle it? I'm afraid that I will accept a position and then require too much guidance or that I will not be as prepared as I come across.

 

I don't really know what I am expecting as a response to this, but I can tell you that it feels strangely satisfying to have written this. I might even end up deleting this in a few minutes.

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 "Can I even handle these responsibilities? What if I can't do (insert any responsibility)? Is this too difficult for me?" I'll admit that I have neglected to apply to some positions because of these thoughts. It's not only impacting my ability to job search, but it also makes me feel like I have wasted my time and the effort of some amazing people that have tried to build my skill set to help me develop a career in research. How am I supposed to know that I can handle it? I'm afraid that I will accept a position and then require too much guidance or that I will not be as prepared as I come across.

 

uhm... fake it 'till you make it? in about half of the research jobs i applied for i knew i was not qualified for them. yet i always said i was an expert in whatever they wanted me to be an expert on and, once i landed the job, i would hit the books/Google HARD to master those skills. getting a job out there is not easy and i don't think most of us have the time to second-guess ourselves at the risk of end up missing out on important opportunities. 

 

given your experience, i'd say you at least have the skills to learn whatever extra things any job position expects from you. so take a deep breath, keep calm and carry on ;-)

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Hey,

 

Few tips.. I may go off trail but 

 

I understand your fear! I strongly advise that you read up on networking and take advantage of the free offers on professional networking sites. You can join a group on LinkedIn for researchers. Then you post an introduction on the group make sure you go for the groups with 4000+ members with frequent conversations, I have a template for an intro PM if you want it. People will point you in the right direction. 

 

I don't apply for jobs I am qualified for and those are the jobs I ALWAYS get interviews for, half the time I don't understand the job description. It's detrimental because I am usually the only person under 30 and have lost out  :P , but it improves my interviewing skills and confidence. I want a job that will push me to grow and usually they offer support.. those job descriptions are often inflated, dunno..Do free courses to improve your skills, be good at what you say you are good at. 

 

When you apply for a job on the black-hole system make sure that you send the hiring manager (google/ L-IN) an email detailing why you are the best candidate. Just applying on a system is a WASTE of time, you will get 1 or 2 replies for every 50 apps. Go onto social media and start replying to target company posts...then contact the poster to tell you about their experience working there and if they reply, ask more questions and start talking about your previous research experience. 

 

Search for conferences! If it's affordable, go! All the best :) 

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