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Thread: What are your experiences asking professors for an RA job?

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    What are your experiences asking professors for an RA job?

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    Hi everyone! I'm an aspiring Ph.D. applicant and this is my first time posting here.

    I wanted to ask you guys about your experiences approaching professors for an RA position. I've seen a lot of tips about how to ask for an RA job, but almost all of them are for science/engineering majors where professors regularly recruit students for their labs. I was just wondering what would be the best way to ask a business school professor whether he/she needs an RA.

    Any advice can help! Thank you guys so much!

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    Re: What are your experiences asking professors for an RA job?

    Bottom line they have to be convinced that youíre going to contribute to their research

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    Re: What are your experiences asking professors for an RA job?

    Just go and ask. Most professors appreciate students that take the initiative and reach out to them. They might very well not have any funds to currently pay for a research assistant, but they might know someone that does. If you haven't done extensive research before you probably won't start working on the analysis of their projects, nor will you end up as a co-author. But if things go right, they might have some more menial tasks for you to start out with and will introduce you to more and more interesting tasks once you've proved yourself.

    Just ask, worst thing that could happen is that they say no.

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    Re: What are your experiences asking professors for an RA job?

    I made it a point to talk to every professor in my dept at least once (one or two a week) - to get to know them, what they are working on, how we get along, etc. From there then I followed up with the ones I wanted to work with and harassed (not really but pestered) them into giving me projects to work on together.

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    Re: What are your experiences asking professors for an RA job?

    Quote Originally Posted by collegedropout View Post
    Bottom line they have to be convinced that youíre going to contribute to their research
    Thank you! Yes I totally agree with that.

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    Re: What are your experiences asking professors for an RA job?

    Quote Originally Posted by FeastLumpi View Post
    Just go and ask. Most professors appreciate students that take the initiative and reach out to them. They might very well not have any funds to currently pay for a research assistant, but they might know someone that does. If you haven't done extensive research before you probably won't start working on the analysis of their projects, nor will you end up as a co-author. But if things go right, they might have some more menial tasks for you to start out with and will introduce you to more and more interesting tasks once you've proved yourself.

    Just ask, worst thing that could happen is that they say no.
    Thanks! There are couple of people whose work I really like, and it would be a dream-come-true if I can work with them on their researches. I guess I'm only hesitating because they are the researchers that I really love and respect, but eventually I do need to reach out.

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    Re: What are your experiences asking professors for an RA job?

    Quote Originally Posted by StrategicMGMT View Post
    I made it a point to talk to every professor in my dept at least once (one or two a week) - to get to know them, what they are working on, how we get along, etc. From there then I followed up with the ones I wanted to work with and harassed (not really but pestered) them into giving me projects to work on together.
    I love your choice of word haha! Probably similar to you, I have spoken with almost everyone in my department, so basically every professor knows what I'm up to. I have also indicated to a couple of people that I would like to work with them. They all agreed to loop me in if work comes up, but I have not heard from them yet. I'll start following up with (aka harassing) them next week. Thank you!

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    Re: What are your experiences asking professors for an RA job?

    In general you would need to:
    a) Be prepared to do the work as a volunteer. Funding for such a position (where you are not a student or a post-doc) would be hard to manage in most university accounting systems, unless you are part of a formal "predoc" program.
    b) Be prepared to do something quite manual. You don't have the skills yet to contribute to the more technical sides of the work. You might have the skills to do a literature review, but that would be risky for the professor involved as literature reviews are hard to do well and they may have to redo your work. In general, volunteering to collect data (whether it be manually or through a script) is most likely to get you a position.
    c) Focus on making it clear that you would be an asset from the very beginning - you don't want to come across as someone who pesters people.

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    Re: What are your experiences asking professors for an RA job?

    I did this in my masters program back in the day.

    Approached a management professor, told him I was interested in research and doing a PhD and asked if I could be an unpaid RA for him for a semester.

    I'm pretty sure his recommendation letter was one of the reasons I got into a decent program.
    This is hard work

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    Re: What are your experiences asking professors for an RA job?

    I have a question about working as an RA without being a student at a program. Is it common for programs to hire full-time RA's to work with faculty? Do such programs also help in sponsoring a visa for those applicants who don't have a visa to work in the US?

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