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Thread: Timing for RA Applications

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    Question Timing for RA Applications

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    Hey everyone. First off sorry if this is a repeated question-- I looked around but didn't find an answer. Of course mods should feel free to delete this if it is.

    I'm a senior in undergrad and just applied to a boatload of PhD programs (I posted my profile evaluation here http://www.urch.com/forums/phd-econo...t-funding.html). But, after spending some time on this forum looking through old threads it seems the consensus is that someone from my background (high GRE & GPA, strong LOR, but no RA or TA experience and coming from an unknown LAC) can really benefit from some time as an RA. I'm not at all opposed to this idea; my goal is to teach and research at a university (not necessarily a famous or highly ranked one) and if RAing for a year or two was necessary I think it'd be very worth it (and that I would enjoy the work!).

    My question is this: given that I've applied to a bunch of programs, and that I do think I have at least a decent shot at getting an offer I'd take, I'm not in a position to be hunting for RA jobs right now or applying to internships with the Fed. I wouldn't feel comfortable doing that until I know whether I'll be accepting an offer or not, obviously. But I'm worried that by mid-march I'm going to be too late to land a decent RA position for 2019-2020. Is this a reasonable fear? What are my prospects for good research jobs going to look like this next spring, after grad school decisions role out?

    Any advice about timing for RA applications, or anything related to it is welcome. You all are such a great resource thanks guys !

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    Re: Timing for RA Applications

    It is a tough act to balance PhD applications with backup RA applications due to the timing. Probably over half of RA hiring happens in fall, and a good chunk still goes on in spring. Your saving grace might be the time that it takes for the RA hiring process to flesh out. A lot of places will take a couple months from initial CV etc submission to finalizing job offers. In between, there are various rounds of interviews and possibly brief data analysis tasks.

    Realistically, you may as well go ahead and start applying to open RA jobs now. The absolute worst thing that can happen from applying too early is that you reach a final offer for an RA job and have not yet heard from (all) PhD programs. In this case, *explain your situation to the recruiter and ask politely if they're willing to give an extension on when you need to reply to their job offer*. If they're not, then okay, you might decline the job, but you've really lost nothing except the time it took to apply/interview. If they are, then great, you're covered on all fronts.

    The big influx of PhD application decisions really hits in mid-February. Meaning we're 3 months out now. Anything you apply to now will likely turn around final offers before mid-Feb, and in those cases you can ask for an extension on any offers. Applications that open in the next month or so are getting closer to the point where you probably won't even need to ask for an extension. And of course applications that open later in January/February are even safer bets. But again, I would just start applying now.

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    Re: Timing for RA Applications

    Brief follow up. You might even consider telling recruiters about your situation earlier in the recruiting process than the offer decision. I might not include it in your initial cover letter etc, on the fear that recruiters might toss your application out without fully considering the timeline. You might consider bringing up your timeline at the first point of contact following your initial submission, whether this is an interview or a data task. This can help save everyone time and frustration in case the timeline does rule you out.

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    Re: Timing for RA Applications

    Other people should probably chime in about this, but from what I understand both the Federal Reserve Board RAship and the Chetty (Equality of Opportunity) RAship have second-round deadlines in the spring, maybe to catch PhD applicants who may be unhappy with their decisions. The Fed branches also technically have rolling decisions. (One of my TAs who worked for the Chicago Fed told me that he didn't know he would be working for the Fed until March or something. He would have started working for the Chicago Fed four or five years ago, though.)

    Of course, your chances of getting those RAships might be different than your changes in the fall. I don't know the decision-making process well enough to say whether the chances are higher or lower (I think either way can be convincingly argued, though I'm leaning towards lower). But chances are just chances, and it'd probably mean you just have to work a little harder to find those positions.

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    Re: Timing for RA Applications

    Really helpful advice, thank you!

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