Is a research assistant job right for you?

Are you applying for academic jobs? Academia is a rich and diverse marketplace with numerous job opportunities. Depending on your area of interest, set of skills, and career trajectory, you will come across dozens of relevant openings. Today we will discuss whether a research assistant job is right for you. That means breaking down what the role actually entails.

What are the qualifications for a research assistant job?

Research assistant jobs typically are filled by senior or postgraduate students. They are entry-level positions within the academic jobs marketplace. Therefore, the qualifications are pretty basic and usually include some combination of the following:

  • Having or working towards a degree in a field related to the research
  • Solid understanding of various research methods
  • Attention to detail
  • Administrative and time-management skills
  • Ability to work under strict deadlines
  • Ability to work both independently and as part of a team
  • Strong communication skills

research assistant jobs

What does a research assistant actually do?

A research assistant job is often a coveted position among students. It gives an opportunity to work closely with a professor who has years of experience and knowledge on the subject. It can be a rewarding academic job as you get to gain deep knowledge in an area of study you’re interested in. However, as with any entry-level job, be prepared to be given grunt work. Your responsibilities as a research assistant will typically include some or all of the following:

  • Preparing and transcribing interviews
  • Collecting and organizing data
  • Supervising undergraduate students assigned to the project
  • Preparing materials for submissions
  • Finding interview subjects
  • Doing literature reviews
  • Preparing reports and presentations
  • Run analysis of raw data

academic jobsHow does a research assistant job look on my resume?

Since a research assistant is an entry academic job, you may be rightfully wondering how it will look on your resume down the line. If you are planning to continue your career in the academic field or see your future as an analyst, a research assistant job will look like an excellent stepping stone. Reputations of professors are, in large, built on their research. Getting the research assistant job indicates that you were trusted with an important responsibility and helped contribute to the knowledge pool in a particular area.

What other academic jobs can I look into?

As mentioned at the beginning of the article, the academic jobs marketplace is diverse. If you are looking for an entry-level jobs, here are some other opportunities you may want to look into:

  • Administrative coordinator
  • Data entry clerk
  • Project manager
  • Outreach specialist
  • Analyst
  • Academic department administrator

When planning out your career, think of each academic job you apply for strategically, when possible. Ask yourself: “What will this job allow me to do next?” At the same time, be open to experimentation. Unless you are 100% certain about what you want to do later in life, stay open to unexpected learning opportunities. You never know where your first job may lead you and what new interests it will help you discover.

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