February 8, 2011

RA job update

So far, my little RA job is going well. The professor has been kind and appreciative, and I'm enjoying the work. I have been an RA many times, and I have learned how to be a good one. After 4+ years of grad school, I know how to do most research-related tasks, so I don't need anyone to hold my hand and answer countless questions. I know when to take initiative and make decisions, and when to ask for clarification and guidance. I'm also good at anticipating what will be most helpful and making suggestions. So I feel confident that I can do good work.

I have also found that, strangely, having a research job is motivating me to focus on my own work. It's nice to take a break from my own endless project and focus on someone else's research. When the stress and weight of My Dissertation is removed, I remember how much I really enjoy doing research. But since I'm only supposed to be working five RA hours per week, I can't let it take over my week and use it as an excuse to avoid my dissertation. Instead, I refocus my energy on my own project after the nice feeling of accomplishing an RA research task and sending it off.

It's also cool to work for a young, female, junior faculty member. I haven't worked with any female professors in graduate school, and I didn't think that it mattered. My committee members respect me and support me, and that's the important thing. But it's strangely energizing to work with someone like me who is designing and implementing a research project. Maybe on some unconscious level, being a young woman in a male-dominated discipline affected me more than I realized?

Anyway, I've only been working on the project for a few weeks, but I'm glad that it's a positive experience so far. And the extra money will really help me. It won't be enough to pay for summer, but the extra money will give me some flexibility when I have to get another job. Because of this income, I might be able to wait an extra month or find something part time.


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