Research Assistantships: A Student Perspective

When we first started writing The Pink Flamingo, we interviewed some students engaged in internships, research assistantships, and teaching assistantships. We decided to conduct some new interviews with recent students. In our first installment, Matt Machnik tells us about his RA with Dr. Martin.

1. Who were you working with for your research assistantship (RA)?

Dr. Ryan Martin

2. How did you find out about the RA and go about getting it?

I first heard about the research assistant opportunities during classes. I talked to different professors about the opportunities that were available. I periodically checked the Human Development Want Ads until an RA opportunity became available that was of particular interest to me. Then, I simply emailed the professor involved with the project, filled out an application, had an interview, and was offered the RA.

3. What kinds of things did you get to do for your RA?

I was able to be involved in just about every step of the research process. There were weekly meetings held during which Dr. Martin, the other RAs, and I would discuss the different studies we were working on during the semester. We continually worked on the methodology for each of the studies, and each of the RAs was given opportunities to provide suggestions for how to improve, or “fine tune,” them.

In addition, I had the opportunity to run data collections. This was my favorite part. This involved actually carrying out the different studies we had planned. I thought it was especially enjoyable because it was great to see people completing the measures we spent so much time preparing. Afterward, I would code the data in SPSS. This process was especially helpful, as it allowed me additional practice with SPSS.

Beyond that, I completed a literature review on the subject of my choice. While the prospect of having to write a paper isn’t always exciting to students, I believe it was a great learning experience. It gave me the opportunity to spend time familiarizing myself with scientific literature, as well as hone my writing skills.

4. How do you think the RA related to what you have learned in your classes?

Generally speaking, it gave me a better understanding of the research process. Since so much of what is taught at UWGB is research driven, it is apparent that this increased understanding will be of use when considering how scientific knowledge is gained. In addition, it helped improve my ability to critically analyze scientific literature – a skill that will come in handy when completing research related class assignments.

I also feel that my experience in the RA program will be of use when completing my Honors Project/Independent Study. The RA provided an excellent example of the type of work that will be involved in developing my project. In essence, the RA was a “warm up” to the research process that I will be carrying out. I would highly recommend that anyone considering doing an Honors Project or Independent Study participate in the RA program first, as it will help them become more familiar with research as a whole.

5. How important has this RA been to your educational experience at UWGB, and why?

Quite important. The experience has proved to be an asset not only when completing the coursework, but also in other projects, such as my Independent Study, as well as the internship that I am currently involved in. I strongly believe that I am a much more competent student than I was before doing the research assistantship, and this has helped enrich my educational experience here at UWGB. I also believe that the improved experience while doing my undergraduate work will also help me become a stronger graduate student. Thus, I believe the experience will pay off both immediately and in my future endeavors as well.

Editors’ Note: Wondering about getting a research assistantship of your own? Read the faculty profiles on the Human Development and Psychology websites to learn who typically works with RAs. These profiles also provide information about the research topics of interest to these professors. As registration time draws nearer for the next semester, you can also check out the department “Want Ads” to see if any openings are listed. Not all faculty members will list their opportunities there, so you should also feel free to contact professors directly to see if they are looking for RAs and find out how to apply.

Interested in a Research or Teaching Assistantship, Internship? Check Out the Department Want Ads

If you’re interested in research or teaching assistantships, internships, or even volunteer work, you should check out the Human Development and Psychology Want Ads, a website where faculty can post these opportunities. This is a particularly good time to look because most faculty members are looking for their spring semester assistants right now. Keep in mind that not all professors will post openings on the website, so if you don’t see someone listed, you may want to visit the faculty links on the Human Development and Psychology websites, see if that person indicates he/she usually works with RAs or TAs, and then email the individual to express your interest.   

To visit the Want Ads website click here. Don’t forget, though, that these are just internal positions, and the PRO System  through Career Services is where your job search should start. We also have very few internal internship positions. Your internship search might also involve PRO and the list of some of our past internships, but it should begin by making sure you meet pre-requisites and by talking with a faculty member.

Don’t Forget…the Departmental Want Ads are Live

Last month, we told you about the new blog for advertising teaching assistantships, internships, or even volunteer work.  We just wanted to take a minute to remind you that the Human Development and Psychology Wants Ads are live and right now is a great time to take a look because many faculty members are starting their searches for Fall semester teaching and research assistants, not to mention interns and other opportunities. To take a look at the want ads, go to: https://blog.uwgb.edu/hudpsychwantads.

We also wanted to remind you, though, that the ads posted there are only internal, departmental postings. Your first resource in your job or internship search should always be the PRO system through Career Services.

Two Upcoming Presentations from Dr. Jill White

There will be two presentations from Dr. White in the next month.  First,  she will be speaking at a presentation titled Derogatory Terms: Past, Present, and Future, which will take place on March 27th from 2:00-3:30 p.m. in the Christie TheaterSecond, as part of the Human Development and Psychology Faculty Colloquia Series, she will be presenting her research on the topic of Mexican Teens, Identity and Education.  This second presentation will be on April 3rd from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. in Rose Hall 250.