Do you have advice for an MPP student ISO research position job?
May 13, 2013 3:51 PM   Subscribe

I'm starting graduate school in the fall: yay! I need to learn an entirely new set of norms around interviews, resumes, etc: oh no! I have a meeting set up with the head of a research institute where I'd LOVE to work there while I'm studying. What do I say? What's OK to ask for?

I will want to work at least a few hours a week to pay for food and things, and to get some relevant experience on my resume. There happens to be a research center near campus that works on precisely what I'm interested in! So I emailed the director of the center and asked to meet with her, and now we have something set up.

But ... I'm not sure what to do at the meeting! What's expected of me -- thoughtful questions about the center or about the issue are, an elevator pitch, something else? Is it reasonable to ask for some work there during or after just one meeting?

I'm coming to this world from years in nonprofits, HR departments, official job postings and the like. Any advice Metafilter has to offer would be fantastic.
posted by blandcamp to Education (3 answers total)
Best answer: [I am a grad student, though not in your field.]

My guess is that, if the director of the center is meeting with you, and knows(?) that you are an incoming student at NearbyUni, she will be probably expecting that you are interested in research work. I would come in with a few researched compliments about the work they do, a few questions, and be ready to mention "I'm beginning [xxx] work at [Uni] in the fall, and I would love to stay on your radar about any [work/research] opportunities that may be available [on a part-time basis?]."

My main advice would be to relax: You are not the first person to have this idea, and assuming you present yourself well (I'd bring a resume just in case they ask for one), que sera sera. The answer very well may be "We only hire [x] graduate assistants a year and those positions are filled." or maybe they leave hiring research assistants up to the individual researchers... someone else with more relevant experience may be able to speak directly to that.

Good for you for being proactive!
posted by Zephyrial at 4:30 PM on May 13, 2013

Best answer: Make it clear that you conctacted them because this is your specific interest. They probably get plenty of inquiries from students fishing for a job just because it's conveniently located.

So something like, "I've been interested in water issues in developing countries every since I read an article in my undergrad development class on water privatization in northeast Bolivia. I think it's not only important but intellectually stimulating. I've read a few books on the subject, like Prendergrast's 'Water: The Ultimate Resource,' and I'm hoping to study the subject as a grad student. It's obviously too soon to be sure, but I think it might be the field for me after I graduate. I'm generally familiar with your work and have read the last few reports you published. I learned a lot from 'The U.N. and Mid-East Water Negotiations.'"

This should hopefully lead to a somewhat substantive discussion about the substance of their work. At the end of the meeting, if the director hasn't brought it up, you can finish off with a "Of course, I'd love to work here. Should I just monitor the formal job postings?" And if it doesn't sound promising, "Are there other researched you think I should contact?"
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 6:44 AM on May 14, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks y'all!
posted by blandcamp at 1:13 PM on May 14, 2013

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