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Thread: If I do RA for a professor, do I need to worry about if his/her research interests?

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    If I do RA for a professor, do I need to worry about if his/her research interests?

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    I mean, since doing ra is almost always about doing data related work (at least from what I've heard), do I need to worry about if there's a match between the professor's research interests and mine?
    If there were no match in terms of interest, what would happen? And if there were, what else could happen?

    Thx for reading!

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    Re: If I do RA for a professor, do I need to worry about if his/her research interest

    I think there should be at least some match between your interests and the professor's. Otherwise, they likely will not think it's worth their time (or yours) to hire you as an RA, and they'd be partly correct. This is the worst case--and likely the only--scenario, as I don't know how you would even get a response to an email if the interests you express are wildly different from the ones of your professor. There are some slight exceptions, e.g. if you're a quant person emailing a behavioral professor and say that you're looking for additional experience in data analysis or something and you know that that's the kind of additional assistance the professor is looking for.

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    Re: If I do RA for a professor, do I need to worry about if his/her research interest

    If that professor is you advisor, then I think a match is very important. It makes a lot easier to get engaged, to understand what is happening, to participate in a project, maybe become a co-author in a paper, to develop skills and knowledge that will be useful for your own research, etc.

    If that professor is not your advisor, then I probably wouldn't worry that much about the match. I think it's still good if there is a match. But, if there isn't a match, at least it's an opportunity to learn about different things, different perspectives. It may be more useful than you expected.

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    Re: If I do RA for a professor, do I need to worry about if his/her research interest

    Hi eggington, thx for the reply. Well actually your response just made me worried... So I'm actually a first-year undergrad at a well-known european b-school. Today I made several good answers to my management prof's questions in the classroom, and after some talking, he seemed to be somewhat impressed by the fact that I'm into research in strategy so early. He suggested that I could work for him as a RA after two weeks (he says that he's really busy for the next two weeks).
    I think it would be REALLY WONDERFUL if he delivered his promise and I could work for him as a RA, even just to get into touch with strategy research.
    The problems, however, are two:
    1. Obviously I'm still exploring my research interests, but I really don't know if I'm interested in what he's studyin. How would this impact my RA experience? Or I don't need to worry too much about it since I'd be asked to deal with data work mostly?
    2. I'm completely new to doing RA...which means that I've zero knowledge of stata, r, python, and econometrics...I'm just wondering, what do eggomgton you think my professor is going to tell to do?


    I do feel that this is a very unique opportunity if I could work for him as a RA in the first year already...because from what I've heard most of the time even third-year students don't get the opportunity to work for professors...and the fact that he's ok with me having zero experience with the programs and programming skills just makes me more appreciative...
    However, I'm also quite worried by your comments honestly...I was wondering if you might kindly give me some advice? Like should I do RA for my professor? And what can I do in these two weeks to prepare myself better (I've just purchased stata, hoping to learn the basics of it in these two weeks possibly...)

    Thanks!!

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    Re: If I do RA for a professor, do I need to worry about if his/her research interest

    Hi BrazilianPhD! Yeah I think you're right! I'm just too new to the field to decide my research interests!

    Also, if you don't mind, could you please also take a look at my previous comment on this page?

    Thx!!

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    Re: If I do RA for a professor, do I need to worry about if his/her research interest

    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas View Post
    Hi eggington, thx for the reply. Well actually your response just made me worried... So I'm actually a first-year undergrad at a well-known european b-school. Today I made several good answers to my management prof's questions in the classroom, and after some talking, he seemed to be somewhat impressed by the fact that I'm into research in strategy so early. He suggested that I could work for him as a RA after two weeks (he says that he's really busy for the next two weeks).
    I think it would be REALLY WONDERFUL if he delivered his promise and I could work for him as a RA, even just to get into touch with strategy research.
    The problems, however, are two:
    1. Obviously I'm still exploring my research interests, but I really don't know if I'm interested in what he's studyin. How would this impact my RA experience? Or I don't need to worry too much about it since I'd be asked to deal with data work mostly?
    2. I'm completely new to doing RA...which means that I've zero knowledge of stata, r, python, and econometrics...I'm just wondering, what do eggomgton you think my professor is going to tell to do?


    I do feel that this is a very unique opportunity if I could work for him as a RA in the first year already...because from what I've heard most of the time even third-year students don't get the opportunity to work for professors...and the fact that he's ok with me having zero experience with the programs and programming skills just makes me more appreciative...
    However, I'm also quite worried by your comments honestly...I was wondering if you might kindly give me some advice? Like should I do RA for my professor? And what can I do in these two weeks to prepare myself better (I've just purchased stata, hoping to learn the basics of it in these two weeks possibly...)

    Thanks!!
    Thanks for the clarification--these details put things into perspective significantly. I think that there's a difference between not knowing what your interests are yet (this seems to be what you're experiencing), vs. knowing that your research interests aren't what your professor is researching (what I thought you were experiencing initially). If your professor already offered an informal invitation for you to help with RA work, I think you shouldn't worry about that offer being revoked solely because your interests aren't the same as theirs, especially as a first year! Professors realize that undergrads probably don't have a clear idea of what they want to do in 4-8 years during grad school/beyond, so you're not expected to, especially as a first-year.

    In terms of what RA work entails, especially as a first-year, there probably won't be too high of expectations in terms of technical knowledge (e.g., programming knowledge, etc.) You should be fine. In my experience (albeit in Marketing, not the area of research you're pursuing), a lot of RA work, especially when you get started, is simple data cleaning in Excel, low-skilled tasks, reading and summarizing literature, etc. If more complex work is needed, your professor may ask you down the line, but I wouldn't sweat it.

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