The Undergrad Research Assistant Position
The primary qualifications required to obtain an undergraduate Research Assistant (RA) position in the PWR lab include motivation, commitment, and consistency. You must also have a GPA of 3.5 or higher and be able to commit two full semesters to being an RA in the PWR Lab. Students able to commit to only one semester will not be considered.
Your main responsibility is to assist Dr. Eaton in all phases of data collection. This includes an 8 hour commitment per week (with 5 hours served in-person at the lab and 3 hours outside of the lab) towards any or all of the following responsibilities:
- Running pretests and survey studies at MMC
- Data Entry and coding
- Copying materials
- Handling participant sign-up and compensation
- Creating materials for the lab community
- Creating study materials
- Conducting literature reviews and searches
- Consistent attendance at the bi-weekly PWR Lab meeting
- Reading articles for the PWR Lab meeting
The benefits of being an RA in the PWR Lab include:
- Course credit through Psy 4930 or Psy 4916.
- Learning about how psychological findings are generated and how research is conducted.
- Learning about whether grad school in psychology is right for you.
- Skill and knowledge acquisition, including improved communication skills, learning statistics and psychology software, learning about psychological theory and concepts, learning about ethical treatment of human subjects, etc.
- Potential for letters of recommendation
- Potential to do a senior honor’s thesis with the lab
If you are interested in being an RA with the PWR lab and you meet the minimum requirements, please complete and submit the above online application along with a resume or CV.
We will review applications for Fall semester in July, applications for Spring semester in November, and applications for the Summer semester at the end of March. Please indicate your intended start semester in the online application.
Q&As about the Undergrad Research Assistant Position
- I noticed that your application has a section for previous research experience. Is prior research experience required in order to become a research assistant?
Not at all! While previous research experience certainly helps make one a more competitive applicant, it is not a necessity — a lack of experience isn’t enough to exclude an otherwise qualified applicant. In fact, many of our RAs came to the PWR Lab without any past lab experience.
- What are you looking for in the essay portion of the application? Is there a minimum word count?
The essays should reflect your comprehension of the questions as well as show us that you are a competent writer. In short, there’s no minimum page or word count, however we don’t want to be left an incomplete sense of your reasons for wanting to join the lab or your post-graduation goals.
- I’m not majoring in psychology, but I still want to be a research assistant. Is the lab open to all students and majors?
Firstly, we look for applicants who are interested in continuing their education beyond a bachelor’s degree. Membership in the PWR Lab isn’t limited just to psychology majors, though the methodologies we employ are based in social, industrial/organizational, and feminist psychology. The way we approach research questions will vary, sometimes drastically, from other disciplines. Volunteering in our lab is a great way to determine if the psychologist’s lens is the way you envision yourself addressing questions. If you don’t plan on applying to psychology graduate programs, we suggest you use a portion of the essay section to explain how your experience in our lab will help you in your intended field.
- I had a rough couple of semesters and my GPA is below a 3.5. Can I still become a research assistant?
This isn’t an easy question to answer. We recognize that everyone’s experiences are different. We look for applicants with the potential to excel as undergraduate and hopefully graduate students but fully understand that GPA does not, by itself, define success. In reviewing applications we apply a holistic approach that addresses past achievements, current endeavors, and future goals, but we recommend you take the necessary time to raise your GPA to a 3.5. The fact of the matter is, graduate programs are tremendously competitive, and GPA weighs heavily into graduate admission committees’ consideration.
- After reading all of the information on your website I still want to know more about what it’s like to be a research assistant. What can I do?
Perhaps those with the greatest insight to what it’s like being a RA are our current RAs. If you click on our members’ page, you’ll notice that under each picture is a link to that member’s email. Feel free to contact members with any questions you have that aren’t already listed elsewhere on our website. You are also welcome to attend any of the PWR Lab meetings listed on the website (see the “schedules” tab).
Letters of Recommendation for Undergrads
Visit Berkley’s career center’s website for some information on how to ask Professors for letters of recommendation for a work position or for graduate school. This includes information on how and when to approach the Professor (be sure to give him or her plenty of time before the letters are due).
If a Professor agrees to provide you with a letter of recommendation, be sure to give her/him the following:
- Your resume.
- Your personal statement.
- The names of each school/company to which you are applying and the programs/positions within each school/company to which you are applying.
- The due dates for each letter.
- The job description (in the event you are applying for a job)
- Information on how each letter should be delivered; some schools or companies want the recommendation sent through the web, while others want it sent through the postal mail.
- Addressed and stamped envelopes for each letter that needs to be sent through postal mail.
- Recommendation forms (often letter writers are asked not only to provide a personal recommendation letter but also to complete a form on which they rank the applicant).