Jobs for the Future: Working with Children and Families

Jobs for the Future: Working with Children and Families


– I’d like to thank Miss
Rod and Dr. Spradley for inviting me to talk to you. What I’d like to do is
to talk to you today about some possible job
opportunities you may consider. Even if you wanna be a teacher, even if you wanna work with
children in another capacity, a lot of times people are looking for work before they may be going
to their major career goal, or before they pursue that. And I’d like to talk to you about pursuing a career, a job working in research. A lot of times when people think about working with children, they may not be aware of the fact that there are a lot of
research opportunities. And that’s what I’d like to
begin to talk to about today, give you an idea where to look and what you’d be doing on these jobs. In fact I’ve known a couple of people who liked it so much they stayed in research for their entire career. So I’ll begin by giving you a little bit of background of myself and some of the students I’ve worked with through the years and
some of the qualifications that they’ve had and
what they got out of it and what was expected. First of all I’m a
developmental psychologist. I work with children. I’ve done research with children and I teach here at Queensborough. I’ve been doing research
probably about 25 years now, and along the way I’ve had the opportunity to work with a lot of
undergraduate students and graduate students. The research that I’ve been involved in primarily deals with children
under three years of age, but I’ve also been
involved on some projects that work with children who
are 11 or 13 years of age. For the most part I think the students that we’ve involved in the research, whether it’s voluntary or most of the time on a paid basis, I think
have enjoyed the work and they’ve learned a lot
about working with children. Most of the students that I’ve worked with were training to be psychologists or had career interest
in being psychologist. But that by no means was
all of the individuals. I’ve worked with people who wanted to be a clinical psychologist, and a couple of people who were teachers when they finished up
their work as researchers. So there’s a wide variety of people that get themselves involved in research. I think I’d like to put a plug in for research too ’cause
it’s a different context than what you see in the classroom. Typically in research we deal one-on-one with children. You’re not dealing with a
group of children but one. Certainly the timeframe is different. You’re not gonna see the child
across for an entire year. But you’re gonna be
working pretty intensively with a child maybe for a
day, maybe for two days, maybe for an hour or two. It all depends what the
nature of the study is like. So let me begin, let me also say, too, if you have any questions along the way, please ask them. You don’t have to wait till the very end. I don’t mind if this is a bit interactive. I think a lot of times
when you mention research it’s not always clear what research is. So the first thing I’d like to do is maybe give it a definition. Research is really working on a project that’s designed to answer
questions through data collection. When you get yourself involved
in a research project, you can rest assure you’re gonna work probably with about five to 10 people. There are people who will range in terms of their abilities,
their education levels, but your primary task, your goal, is going to be focused around getting research participants, having them come through the study, and collecting all types of data on children and even on
parents and families. And your focus then is really making sure that the quality of data that you get and the way you collect it is nice and uniformly done. That’s, I think, a nice, I think, summary of what research is all about. A lot of times people will ask too, what is the typical lab like? Or where is a lab located? Your typical lab is usually
associated with a college, a university, or a hospital. I can tell you across
the New York area here, there are lots of laboratories
that deal with children. You look in Queens College, they work with children in a laboratory. You look at NYU. They have a laboratory
that deal with children. They have several in fact. Or I’ve done research at
Albert Einstein in the Bronx. They have a lot of labs
that work with children and do research with children. All throughout the five boroughs, you may not be aware of it, but there is a lot of research
going on with children. About five to 10 people in each lab, undergraduate students, graduate students,
professors, medical doctors, and computer technicians
all work together. What do laboratories research? I think it’s another good question. You’ll look and you’ll
see that laboratories will research a variety of questions. It really depends upon what
people are interested in. A lot of laboratories will
look at physical development, how children change through time in terms of their physical attributes. Others will look at cognitive development, social development. The nice thing about living in New York, you have a lot of laboratories
that you can choose from. And if you’re interested
in a particular area of the way children
change, the way they grow, or perhaps how you wanna
work with families, you can pretty much find a lab that’s doing research in that area. A lot of times people will ask, too, what are researchers like? Well, researchers tend
to be detail oriented. Some may even say they
get fixated on details. But when you’re collecting
data, when that’s your main job, you wanna make sure that
the data is collected in a nice, uniform way, child after child, parent after parent. And so you strive to do it in the same way and to have the people that work with you do so in the same way. So if you’re a detail-oriented person, or you have tendencies in that direction, I think it’s a great option. The staff had a lot of places, too. Not only is there a diversity
in terms of educational level, there’s a diversity in
terms of background. And I think it makes for a nice experience to have a mix of people. Certainly you look at a lot of studies. I was working on one project
a number of years ago, and they were looking at, I forgot, the issue was in regard to language and toxic exposure to various substances. And they were interested in different groups in the city, so you had people from Asian backgrounds, you had people from Caucasian backgrounds, you got people from, you have all different
backgrounds with people. So the thing to keep in mind is you’re going to have
a nice mix of people. The other thing. How are labs organized? The one thing I think you’ll find is that in the New York
area you have loan labs, you have people that operate
pretty much in isolation from other laboratories. However I will tell you there are a lot of centers in the city
and they work on issues, and they work in combination
with one another. If you look at NYU for instance they have a large area that does research with children. All different aspects are investigated. It’s a nice place to do work. You look at Columbia and they, too, have a large research center. If you look on the upper west side they have the Mailman Center. And they do a lot of research projects, all different types, and certainly you can find pretty much a group or an interest that satisfies you. Once again the type of people I think you’re gonna be
working with in an average lab, you’re gonna be working
with a primary investigator, that’s the researcher
who’s doing the project. You’re gonna be working with probably a medical person or two, or nurses, you’re gonna be working
with graduate students, you’re gonna be working
with undergraduate students, and you’re going to be
working with clerical staff. And depending upon the nature
of the project, others too. So it’s a wide range of people. Now how are you going to
get into such a place. The first thing you’re going to do probably to get your foot in the door is you’re going to become
a research assistant. This is a nice entry level position. This is how you begin to get
your feet wet in research. What are the educational requirements? Now, I put these down, but I put ’em down somewhat loosely. Generally they’re looking for people with an associate’s degree
or a bachelor’s degree, or sometimes just a high school degree with the person working on
his or her college degree. So that’s a nice advantage. And generally they will tell you upfront in the ad what
they’re looking for. If you’re going to be administering
more standardized test, if you’re going to be doing assessments, they probably will put down
some educational requirement. But by no means do you have
to have a graduate degree. These are designed to be
entry level positions. And keep in mind something. Most labs like to have
students involved in the work. And a lot of researchers, too, like to have students involved not only in doing the research but if they’re interested in part of it, if maybe they like to
pursue a line of the work to have them actually involved in writing up some of the work and presenting it as
part of their education. It all depends on the researcher. The researcher gets to organize the way he or she wants to run the lab. Your job primarily as a research assistant is to take children through
a research protocol. And what does that mean? Well, it means that when a parent brings a child to the lab, you’re going to take the child through all of the assessments, all of the procedures,
all of the questionnaires, and you’re going to be
working with mom, too, or dad. So your job is to facilitate
that whole process. I can tell you most people enjoy it. The work can be difficult at times ’cause you know you’re
working with children. Some kids, perhaps, may
not be having a good day. But I think for the most
part kids like working with, students like working with the kids. It’s a fairly enjoyable experience. I think some very good
pieces of experience that you’re going to get if
you work in a research lab are the following. The one thing you’re going to do is most probably they’re
going to teach you to administer standardized test. Now what are standardized test? Standardized test can be looking at the child’s verbal ability, maybe they will teach you to administer an assessment like the Peabody
Picture Vocabulary Test, we call the PPVT. They may train you to administer some scales of a child’s
academic achievement, another very common
assessment that’s given. They may even teach you to give an intelligence test for children. Sometimes I think
students get a little bit nervous about doing this. Do they have the qualifications? Are they gonna be able to handle it? Always keep something in mind. Most of the researchers I know are not going to let you loose working with children on
your own till you’re ready. They’re going to help you learn. They’re going to give you
the skills that you need, they’re going to stay
with you until you learn, and then most of the researchers I know are very eager and anxious to give you points along the way if you’re having any type of difficulty. And remember the way
standardized tests are designed, it’s to make them fairly
easy to administer in a standardized fashion. You’ll also be given some
training to do questionnaires, pretty much you’re gonna be
working with the parents. You may ask parents
about their background, educational level, temperament, what’s the family environment like, anything that we think can maybe
contribute to the findings. And then you may be even trained to help out doing some
experimental assessments. You know, most researchers that I know that work with children will administer standardized assessments,
but in addition they’re also testing things out along the way. They’re trying to maybe
make an assessment better, to maybe tweak it a little bit, to make it a bit more informative. And so things are always
under development. So you’ll also be trained to do that. Most of the time today,
these are computer-based. And so that you’ll be
sitting with the child in a laboratory maybe 10 to 15 minutes. Usually the parent is there with you and you’re taking the child through this computerized battery. You’ll be interviewing the parents and you’ll also be interviewing children. Frankly I think it’s fun
to interview the kids because when you interview kids, we ask them questions designed by adults, and invariably we make mistakes. We don’t ask kids in the right way, and I think it’s a lot of fun
when the kid looks at you, furrows their brow and says to you, “Are you trying to ask me this?” Well, yeah, that’s what
I’m trying to ask you. And then they rephrase it for you and literally they tell you the way it should be phrased. And I think it gives you great insight into a child’s thought process. So you’re gonna be interviewing
both parents and children. And really we start giving
questionnaires to kids at about three years of age, simple questions, hopefully
things they can understand. And as the kids get older the number of things we
ask increases over time. The other thing you’re going to be doing is contacting parents and
arranging appointments. I would love to tell you
that most of your time is going to be spent working
with parents and children. You spend a lot of time doing that, but you’re also going
to be part of the force that is helping to get the
parents to the laboratory, okay? Unfortunately in today’s day and age parents are extremely busy. It can be difficult to track them down because people have cellphones and they change their
cellphone numbers a lot, and you’re always trying
to arrange and rearrange. Well, generally in most labs there are a number of people that do this. So you’re calling people on the phone, you’re sending them emails,
you’re tracking them down. And you are hopefully, and
then at the end of this, able to arrange an appointment. Certainly a couple of years
ago I was involved in a project where we were bringing children back. We had seen them the last
time at three years of age and bringing them back when
they were 11 years of age. I became very aware of how
mobile people are today. About 25 to 30% of our sample have moved out of the New York area. When they move for various reasons: housing was too expensive, couldn’t get a job, they
wanted to go somewhere warmer. Certainly I could give
you 12 different reasons. But I can tell you that
people that I worked with and myself included, it was
sometimes pretty typical to spend two to three
hours searching for people, sending emails, calling people, different phone numbers,
tracking them down. And certainly there was almost elation when we found somebody. And I even had a couple of mothers say, wow, I didn’t think you’d
find me and you did. And certainly what’s what a
lot of time is devoted to, and it’s not that they
didn’t want to be found, but certainly when people move, they get busy, and they forget to call you even though they promised to do so. So that’ll be something
that you’ll be doing, too. You’ll be calling, making phone calls, setting up appointments. In fact running the kids through the study is almost kind of the end
product, and it’s the fun part. It’s your reward for all of the work that you did ahead of time. The other thing you’ll be doing, too, you’ll be performing clerical tasks. I’d like to say you won’t, but you will. You’ll be stuffing envelopes
because we send out envelopes to contact
parents, reminder notes. Even in the year 2012, believe it or not, a paper reminder in the mail does better than sending
an email or the phone. In fact I’ve had parents tell me, wow, I was so surprised to
get something in the mail. I hardly get any mail any longer. Snail mail has now become
something of the exception so people notice it. After you go past research assistant, I wanna tell you some other jobs that are available because generally you begin as a research assistant. If you like it though, and certainly you fit into
the organization nicely, you begin to move, they may
be asking you to stay on, and they will put you
into different positions. The next position is
something called a recruiter. Let me tell you the context in which a recruiter works. A recruiter works for several researchers. You typically see this
in larger institutions. And you may have 10 different researchers who are working with children, but they want somebody
central to recruit kids. That is the job of the recruiter. They keep in contact with parents. They establish and maintain a database, and they call parents, and
they set up an appointment. And they work together
kind of a central person with all of the not only
the research assistants but more with the researchers. I know one person, I
actually know two people, both have been doing this
for about the last 10 years. They like doing it. They’ve established, they
got a rapport with parents, they know where to contact the parents, and in effect too what they’ll do, sometimes they even go visit parents as soon as they give
birth in the hospital. And they’ll say, would you like to be part of this research study? They’ll explain it, maintain contact, and they get the parents enrolled. The thing that you’ll keep in mind, if you are a recruiter, you’re not only going to be working getting children for several studies, you’re also going to be dealing
with several personalities of researchers if you will. And when it comes to
getting subject per studies, participants, that in a very real way is the most important
part of doing research. You can propose all the projects you want but you have to have data to support your ideas hopefully. So this person has a very
important role to fill and has to try to make sure that he or she is doing their best when it comes to getting people
to go through the studies. The other thing you’ll probably be doing as a recruiter is you’ll also be working with the community. The recruiters I know they will go out, they go to schools, they
go to parenting centers, they go to community organizations, and they try to get parents interested. And certainly it’s an important role. They may spend two or three
nights every week doing this. And they establish a good
rapport with the community and they get people enrolled. If you like being a research assistant, if you make it to research
recruiter, or perhaps even not, you may become a research coordinator. Generally for a research coordinator you have to have a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree. You may say why. Excuse me. Well the research coordinator you’re gonna working much more intensively with the researchers. Your job will be to supervise
research assistants, and not only that you’ll be working with the researchers telling
them how the study is going. Do they have it designed well? Do the children seem to like the task? Does something need to be changed? And really for you to have a good idea of what needs to be done, most researchers will say you need somebody with
a bachelor’s degree, maybe a master’s degree. So you’re working much more
hands on with the researchers. You’re more in a supervisory capacity. The other thing you’re going to be doing, you are the manager of
grant funded research. You’re gonna be doing purchasing. You’re going to be buying equipment. You’re maybe taking care of salary. You may be handling the books. Now let me say something about a lot of the research that’s done. It’s funded by the National
Institute of Health. It’s funded by the National
Science Foundation, or it’s funded by private foundations. I can tell you that a lot of researchers, when they get money for projects, the size of the project may demand that it needs at least one
to two million dollars. Now it’s a lot of money. You’re being put in charge of that. You’re helping to manage it
along with the researcher. So you’re going to have
quite a few responsibilities. You will help determine many times at what level somebody comes in at. When you’re buying equipment, you are the one that has to find the most price effective
piece of equipment. You have to make sure there’s adequate funds there to pay participants because remember we like to offer people something for coming and participating in the study. So you’re very much in
a supervisory position. And since you’re managing money you’re gonna have quite
a few responsibilities. You’ll also be supervising and training research assistants. The nice thing about being
a research coordinator, you, yourself, at one time, more than likely was a research assistant. You know the questions,
you know the issues, you know the problems. And so when you take people on board you help them out, you help to train them. So if you’re good with
working with people, if you are a good teacher, if you are able to be patient, if you are able to build the team, that’s what it means to be, that’s what is needed to
be a research coordinator. I remember I work with
someone in the city. She was a research coordinator. I think she was one of
the best I’ve ever seen. She was working with a
staff of about 10 people. And something always
impressed me about her, she was knowledgeable
about what was going on. And she was not bashful to help out. She got in there. If somebody didn’t come to work one day, she jumped right in and did
what was needed to be done. And I think the staff
liked her, I liked her, and it was a very effective situation. And certainly she had, she was there for a number of years, and I wouldn’t be surprised
if she’s still there. Something that may sound
a little bit intimidating, but frankly it’s kind of fun, it’s challenging, is you’re
going to help design research. A lot of times things look good on paper. You propose to do a study. You’re working with three
or four-year-old children, and then you begin to do the project and you realize what you
proposed isn’t working. The research is gonna come to you. You’re gonna be part of the team. They’re gonna ask you, well, how do you think we should change this? What needs to be done? What does the existing research tell us? What should we do? A lot of people enjoy that. That’s a challenge. And certainly you know that your input will make a difference in terms of how the project comes out. We’re getting close collaboration. I want to emphasize this because more than likely you’re not
going to be on the fringe. You’re going to be in there. Generally most labs will
have a meeting in place. You generally meet together as a group once every week, maybe twice every week. You’re meeting there with the researchers. You’re giving them input,
they’re listening to you. You have to remember
this is a central role. Researchers get money
for doing this project. They would like to continue their work. They want their work done properly. They want it done carefully because if it’s not they don’t get more grant funding to do anything else. And so they want you to help them out. So this is very much a team effort and they want somebody
who’s detail oriented. They don’t want somebody bashful. If you don’t think something
is working, tell them. There’s nothing worse than you get done with a project and somebody says to you I knew that wasn’t gonna work. It was done terribly. I mean certainly all that time, all that energy and the potential
of the research is gone. I wanna go through. I wanna show you an ad
that I found online. I look through several. It was posted at Stanford University, but they were looking for
somebody to work in the lab, I wanna read it, and then I wanna take, I wanna go through it point by point because I think it’s a very nice ad. I’m sure we’ll get people
to work in their lab. But it illustrates a lot of what researchers are looking for when they take on people to work as part of a project. And before I even do so,
are there any questions anyone has at this point? I don’t mind. Go ahead. – [Participant] You’ve identified
a number of key positions and I’m wondering which ones are really more accessible and available on a current economy business. – Research assistant. There are a number of research
assistant positions open. And that’s generally how a lot of people are brought into the research. And I’ll tell you most of the time, people move from being
a research assistant to either perhaps a
coordinator or recruiter based upon how they worked
as a research assistant. So the research assistant
is the entry level position. And frankly if you do a nice job you like and the money keeps
coming in to do studies, you’ll probably be moved up. – [Participant] But that’s
within one location. What if you were for research assistant in one location and then
you’re interested in moving from that that location, what are your chances of becoming a recruiter or a coordinator
ina different location. – Very good, very good. Better in the institution that you’re at, but you’re going to get a
letter of recommendation most probably by the people
that you’re working for ’cause frankly most researchers understand people don’t wanna be a
research assistant forever. And so if you have somebody
with you two or three years and they tell you I
found a better position, I think most researchers will say, you know what, I’m so happy for you. And you’ll probably get a pretty good letter of recommendation. And that letter of recommendation
is weighed quite heavily because, you know, the education
is important, no doubt. But when you take
somebody on as a recruiter or a coordinator, you wanna see that they were able to function well as a research assistant because if those skills are in place, you know they’re going to transfer. So research assistant
is the place you begin. Any other questions? Here’s the job description. Now remember this is posted, this is posted from an
infant lab at Stanford. Nicely put together some
interesting qualifications are presented here. Job description. Research assistant at the
Center for Infant Studies in the Department of Psychology where we do experimental research in early language development. As an RA you will help us
with participant recruitment, running experiments with
infants and children, and data coding and analysis. This is a terrific lab community with lots of student participation. I think it’s a great job description, and I know the person who runs the lab, and I’m sure she runs a great lab. Here are the qualifications. No previous research
experience is necessary. What’s essential is that you bring to this work a desire to learn, high energy, a positive
and professional attitude, and meticulous attention to detail and the many different jobs
you’ll be asked to perform. Conscientiousness, good organization and interpersonal skills, and
punctuality are essential. You will work independently as well as part of a research team. Basic computer skills are
required such as Microsoft Office. I wanna go through each
of these points one by one because I can tell you when people are, when we look for people who
are for research assistants, we look for a lot of these qualifications whether they’re written down or not. We ask people about them. So let’s begin, let’s
look at the list here. And the issues I wanna cross are the characteristics
that you should have, but also let’s take a
look at another issue, what’s the benefit for you? What are you going to get about out of being a research assistant? The desire to learn. You notice that in the ad. A desire to learn I think means don’t be afraid to do things that you’re not comfortable with in terms of tasks or things
that you may even think you don’t have enough experience with. Most of the time researchers know that you’re going to be asked to maybe work wit a
computer to do an assessment that you haven’t done before. That’s okay. They’re willing to tell you. As long as you say I’ll
do it, I’ll try it out, as long as you help me,
that’s all that’s needed. That desire to learn
is extremely important. What you don’t wanna be is to say to the researcher “I can’t
do it, I won’t do it.” I mean frankly ’cause
we’ll probably look at you and say, no, we think you can do it. That’s why you were hired. You have those skills, you can do it. High energy. I found it interesting
that she put that in there, but frankly we do look for that. You’re dealing with children. When a child comes to the lab, it doesn’t look like Frankenstein’s laboratory most of the time. In fact most labs look
pretty much like a classroom, and we try to decorate them
in a child-friendly way. But, you know, when you
bring a two-year-old or a three-year-old to
an unfamiliar place, they’re not gonna be
comfortable being there. And so what your job is is to
make them feel comfortable. If you’re lethargic, certainly
if you don’t have any energy, that’s going to rub off to the child. The child’s going to feel that, and they’ll become more worried. So high energy is important
when you’re working with kids. A positive and professional
attitude, extremely important. I think a positive attitude means, a willingness to do
things, a good attitude, but a professional one too to make sure that you know your boundaries between the children and
you, the parents and you, and that you act in a way that’s nice, that’s cordial, but certainly recognizing that you’re not a relative of the family or a friend of the child. You’re there to take the
child through the research. A meticulous attention to detail. I’ll tell you, researchers
are sticklers for this one. When they administer an assessment, they want it done in a uniform way. If you’ve ever taken a psychology class, you know we emphasize that
that when research is done, you do it the same for everybody. Each person that works on the study gives the questionnaire
in the same manner, the assessment in the same manner. You’re trained to do that because we don’t want anyone to say or to look at our results or we find
that research assistant A versus research assistant B did things differently
and the data is reflected by the way they did it differently. So you’ll be trained to
do things very carefully. A willingness to perform different jobs. Do you mind doing clerical work? Do you mind perhaps working with children? Do you mind even at times trying to help mom find a parking space? All different types of
things you have to do to carry out research. Most people will say they
like doing the different jobs because it makes the day go very quickly. But a willingness to do different jobs. Good organizational skills. The one thing when you
take kids through research, you write everything down. You keep the data very orderly because when the data is
done and all collected, researchers wanna look at it. And organization is important. The worst thing that can happen is you’re dealing with a child or perhaps somebody else
that’s tested the child, and you ask the research assistant, so what did you think
about Joey that came in? Do you think he was having
a problem with X, Y, or Z? And the person says, I never
really wrote it down, I forgot. I mean, once the information
is lost, it’s lost. Interpersonal skills. Are you able to work as part of the team? Can you hold a conversation
with other people? Are you cordial? Are you pleasant? Do you have a positive attitude? Punctuality. Do you come on time? This is extremely important. When you make an appointment
to see a child at nine o’clock, you have to be there at nine o’clock. You’re going to be expected to be there. We’re waiting for you. And if you come at 9:30, 10 o’clock, the parent is there, that’s bad. We need you to be on time. I thought this was an
interesting point also. Can you work independently
and as part of a team? I’ve had the occasion to
work with a couple of people who really couldn’t work independently because once they worked independently they became distracted. And many times in the lab you’ll be required to
do things on your own or to work together with others. So those qualities are
going to be examined. The other thing, basic computer skills. Can you use Microsoft Office? But let me say something. Maybe that’s the only
computer skill you have. Maybe you don’t even like computers. Maybe you’re a little intimidated by them. Don’t be afraid because most of the time researchers are gonna
be eager to train you. They’re not gonna give you things that they don’t think you can handle, and you may be working
with statistical software, maybe they’re working with
Excel, maybe spreadsheets. Don’t worry, they will train you, they’ll help you out. So don’t let this be a deterrent. I mean frankly I’ve seen a couple people who I think decline jobs because
they were afraid of this. Don’t have that be a fear of years. Jump in to it, you’ll get trained, I’m sure you’ll do fine. The other qualification, flexibility. Working with kids demands flexibility. Two reasons. First of all you’re making
appointment to see a child. You tell the mom and the mom agrees that 11 o’clock is a good time for her. When does she come? 12:30. Now you may be involved in something else, you may even have another child there. You may have to get somebody else’s help. You have to remain flexible. You have to understand parents can’t always be there on time. Buses run late, trains run late, or the younger or the
older child has an issue. The nice thing is though
that mom or dad still came so you have to be a bit flexible. – [Participant] So this
is one time you don’t pay attention to that meticulous detail? – Correct, correct. So you have to know when to let it go. And, you know, frankly
I’m a creature of habit and I can tell you, if
I’m working on a study and a mother comes three hours late and I have another appointment there, I can tell you I sweat bullets ’cause I wonder how am I
gonna the other child through when you know kids only have
a limited attention span, but you have to be flexible. Let’s do the flip side now. What’s not conducive to
being a research assistant? Hesitancy to learn new skills. Don’t be afraid, learn them, okay? I remember I work with
somebody a number of years ago, she didn’t wanna do one of the assessment. She didn’t think she could do it. They say just learn. We went back and forth about this. And frankly she learned
and she was probably one of the best testers of that assessment I have ever seen. So don’t be fearful. You’ll be taught, you’ll learn. I’ll tell you something that will not go over well and probably
won’t keep you in the job long. Persistent lateness. There’s nothing worse than if you have children scheduled nine o’clock. You’re working with three-year-olds. You know you have an hour
and a half of good time ’cause they need their nap, and your assistant doesn’t
come till an hour later. That can really be a problem
because most of the time you’re gonna be depending heavily on your research assistant. You need them there. So you can’t be late. If you say you’re going
to be there at nine, you’re there at nine. This is important, I
think, for the interview, and it’s important as
you carry out the job. And that is how you dress, okay? I can tell you that when a person walks through the door to be
a research assistant, we’re not looking for the person
to be dressed in our money. I can tell you though
people want individuals to dress in a business casual way. A nice pair of jeans, a
nice modest shirt, okay? And frankly that’s what
most people wanna see you come when you run kids. We don’t expect you to wear fancy clothing because you’re gonna be on
the floor with the kids. You’re chasing them all around. But as long as you dress
in a very modest way yet a very casual way. One thing that I see today,
constant cell phone use. This doesn’t go over well. I can tell you it makes
researchers’ hairs stand on end. If you’re in a lab with a child, and the research
assistant is on the phone, you’re missing behavior. You’re not making adequate observations. It can even be a distraction. That’s not gonna go over well. That could get you fired. Lack of motivation. If you come through the door day after day and you look as if you’d
rather be anywhere than there, once again, it’s not gonna go over well. Sloppiness. Sloppiness, particularly in terms of how you collect data or when you’re helping
to analyze the data. I can tell you researchers want to know where every little number went. They don’t want estimations,
they want accuracy because they wanna be
sure if the study came out or didn’t come out that the data was collected appropriately. Ah, the last one. Inability to follow directions. If people tell you to do
something a certain way, do it a certain way. I remember years ago I worked with someone and we told her each and every time a child makes a response, write it down. She said, well, why? We said because as you go through the items and things
happen, you’ll forget. She refused to do it that way. In fact she would complete
a whole page full of items and at the end write it all down. That’s a nightmare because
you know and I know more than likely you’re
gonna forget things. And she did not follow directions not only on that test but on others. That’s another bad thing. What are the benefits? You mean certainly I’ve told you all of the qualifications,
what you shouldn’t do. But to be a research assistant hopefully there’s something in it for when there is. I think first and foremost
you get to work with children. And frankly it’s a perk. It’s fun to work with them. It’s great to get to know families. It’s great to work with parents. Most wanna be there. Most wanna help you. Most really become almost
like a friend to you because you see them so many times. So that’s one of the biggest perks. But we all need a little money to live. That’s another benefit. It’s entry level. Most labs will pay you anywhere
between about 12 to $15. It’s not gonna make you
a multi-millionaire, but it’s a place to start. You’ll also in many places
get health coverage. A lot of people find this a perk. The health coverage may not be extensive and maybe basic health, but I can tell you a lot of people will say that just fine. They are extremely happy to have it. It’ll give you work experience. I think the work experience
you get is pretty nice. You get a very wide array
of tests that you’re given. Most of the time you master them, and you can really make, you have a lot of things
to put on your resume. So the work experience
you get is very nice, and let me mention, too, you’re also gonna get
letters of recommendation. When you have a person that helped you out that was really good
at what he or she did, most of the time you’ll get
a pretty nice recommendation. I mean I’ve worked with people eight, nine years ago now, and they still contact me for
letters of recommendation. I’m happy to give them, and they’ve gone on to very nice things. You’ll increase your skills. If you’re not good working on a computer, you’re gonna be better
at working on a computer. If you want experience working
with children, you’ll get it. So your knowledge of
software will increase. The other thing that will increase is your knowledge of administering standardized assessments,
and certainly questionnaires. The other thing that may scare you, but you will get it, and
it’ll serve you well, you’ll increase your knowledge in terms of data coding
and data collection. I think a lot of people
when they initially start they say I don’t wanna do that. I don’t know if I could that. You will do it. You’ll do fine because most of the time it’s arranged in a step-by-step manner. And you’ll network. If you don’t know many
people that can help you out with recommendations,
you’ll begin to learn people that certainly can give
you recommendations. Certainly through the years
I’ve worked with children. I myself am not a clinical psychologist. I don’t do therapy. I do know people though
that do clinical psychology. And people that have
worked with me have asked if I would introduce them to
this clinical psychologist. I have, I’m more than happy to. I mean certainly you
wanna help people out. You wanna give them a
leg up on things here. So most of the time if
somebody knows someone they’ll try to help you out. And certainly if you’ve done a good job, you’re a very effective person in the lab, they’re happy to give
you a recommendation. So where are you gonna find these jobs? There are a number of sites on the web. And frankly I was surprised
by how many jobs were listed. A great place was idealist.org. You can put in the keywords
research assistant, and if you wanna add the word children to kind of narrow in
on the type of research you wanna become involved
in, that’s what you do. I started going through and
reading some of the ads. Let me tell you there’s a lot of research being done in this tri-state area. There’s a lot being done on Long Island. And look through the various ads if this is maybe something
that interests you. Maybe you would consider
being a research assistant in a project that fits your interest. So maybe you do wanna be a teacher. Maybe there’s a research project, and I’m sure there are, dealing
with academic achievement or factors that impact
academic achievement. It’s a great place to learn. It’s a great place to hook up. More than likely you’ll also be working with teachers because a lot of times you get a lot of people
involved on these projects. Another site you can
look at is indeed.com. Once again there are a lot
of research jobs available. Maybe you don’t wanna work with children, maybe you wanna try something else, maybe you wanna work with
the clinical population. Maybe you wanna even
work on animal studies, or maybe you wanna get out of psychology. There’s a lot of different
research programs out there. Try it, you’ll like it. Another great place, the
New York Times classifieds. Look for research assistant,
look for children. They’re usually in the Sunday Times. There are generally a number
of positions available. You might also consider going to some of your professors if you’ve
taken a psychology class. A lot of times they may be involved in or they know of research. And certainly if you know somebody, they seem to be someone who
is a responsible student and they’re asking to work in a lab. More than likely you’ll be willing to have them come on board. You might also consider a
large hospital or university. LIJ, North Shore, as I said
Albert Einstein in the Bronx, Columbia, all have research areas. What I like about large hospitals or universities are this. Large hospitals in
particular don’t have a large undergraduate population. If you try to get a job
at NYU for instance, a lot of times their students are the first ones that
get those positions. A large hospital though
doesn’t have access to all of those students. And so most of the time
they’re advertising in the community at large,
and the region at large, provides a great opportunity. And certainly you’ll be working with a whole different host of people and you’ll have quite a few
opportunities available. You might even do a Google search. I’ve done Google search
to see what was there for research assistant. A lot of things pop up. And that’s my talk so far. But if you have questions
I’d be happy to answer them. Let me ask a question, how many people here wanna be teachers? How many people ever considered
being a research assistant? A couple of people. If you’re interested, if you need a job, I would tell you to consider it. It may not be exactly what
you wanna do at first, but I can tell you it’s
a great stepping stone. Get yourself involved in a project that you may see some relevance to your career in the future. I mean certainly through the years I have worked with one person who later became a high school teacher. And she did enjoy working
with the young kids and gave her a different perspective. So don’t discount it right away. Consider it, toss it around. You may even consider, too. Maybe you’ll move up, maybe you’d like to be a professor after
you work with researchers. So it’s a great place
to get some experience. – [Participant] About
a school psychologist, I think it’s gonna be a
wonderful foundation to that. Does it help at all if you join the psychology club or
become a member of a club? Let’s say you’re in undergrad school and you’re interested in
becoming a research assistant. Do you think that will be beneficial? – I think it’d be beneficial
certainly to join the club. The Honor Society. Because not only are
there gonna be mailings from the organization, but
you will be finding out about research opportunities. I can tell you that two years ago I found out of two jobs. And for the students
here at Queensborough, I advertised it. Unfortunately I was only
able to fill one job. But it was a decent paying job. The student was happy to get it. She started off at $12 an hour
and the hours were flexible. So certainly it does help to
become a member of the society. I mean certainly you’ll get
to know me a little bit better and any jobs that I hear
I like to pass them along. Any other questions? – [Participant] Do most
people stay with the same research ongoing or do they have to move from one researcher to the next? – That’s a great question. You know what it hinges on a
lot of times are two things: how well you do, and do
they have money to pay you. I can tell you that generally if you get somebody that’s good, you probably won’t keep them as a research assistant forever. You’re gonna start moving
them up in the organization. You’ll be moved up from
research assistant to recruiter, to research coordinator. And certainly there’d be different levels that you will go through. It hinges a lot of times on funding. I think one of the downsides of doing research long term is that funding either through NIH or NSF, it kind of goes through spurts and then it kind of slows down. Unfortunately at this point in time things aren’t so good. The economy hasn’t been that good. Funding is extremely tight so people are running
very, very small units. They try to keep the number
of people they employ to a minimum so that at least
they can keep them on board. Frankly what people are
talking about these days, they’re hoping the funding
will begin to increase again because even the projects they’re funding are the very, very low percentage. It’s usually when people put
in projects in the country, usually about 8 to 10% get funded. It’s down now to 5 to
6% which is very low. But if you get into a place,
here’s the good thing. If there are multiple researchers, one person may not be able
to support you any longer but another person will take you on. So the larger place that
you get involved with, the higher likelihood it is that you’ll be able to
maintain your employment. So you know the other thing, too, even if a researcher doesn’t get funded, but if that person does good work, they don’t want their lab to fall apart. So a lot of times the research institution will give them some emergency funding. They’ll say we’ll keep you
alive going for a year or two, hopefully you’ll get some funding. And I point that out because that’ll be good for you if
you are working in a lab. You can be assured that things are pretty bad, pretty tight right now, but they’re gonna help you out, they’re gonna keep you in employment. The other thing, too, don’t forget, a lot of time the research
community is a small community. Your name will get known if you’re good. And so say for instance one place can’t support you any longer, you apply for a job at
somebody else’s lab, people know people, and guess what, you’re hired in another place. So I’ve seen a lot of people travel around different places and frankly I’m kind of shocked and say, oh my God, I didn’t know you’re working
there, and there they are. So it’s that network. And, too, when you get your
letter of recommendation, the person is going to sign it obviously. You recognize the name.
– Okay. – Any other questions? – [Participant] The same ones, though, would you be interested in following up on or are you afraid? Are you uncertain? With the smiles on your
face, I’m pretty (mumbles). That something you’d go for? – You should try it even if
you wanna volunteer at first ’cause we do take volunteers on. Try it out for a month see if you like it. – [Participant] They
don’t volunteer anymore. – Well, then even try it
as a research assistant. – [Participant] I’m just kidding. – You know, most people are surprised at the experience they get ’cause I can tell you
the places I’ve worked, we love to put people to work. And if they show a little talent, we let them go.
– Let me ask you, you said something very important because they have to complete
30 hours of volunteer work and the intro to education
course, the 8110. Is it possible for them
to work with the children in a volunteer capacity? Are there any clearances
that they have to go through? What kind of background check? – Well, that’s a good question. That depends on the lab. Some labs, some institutions, will require that you require that you go through a background check. I can tell you that labs
today are less likely to take on volunteers
for a short term basis because they have to go
through that city course to work with human subjects. And there’s a lot more prep
work than there used to be. So generally a lot of
time researchers will ask can we take you on for at least a year because if you’re gonna
do all that prep work and all that training, they wanna make sure
that you’ll be on board to help on with the project. There is, there’s quite an
investment of time, too, ’cause when you get somebody involved in a large scale project and you’re seeing maybe 150 children, you’re seeing them
across maybe three years, and maybe when the children come in, maybe you spend three,
four, five hours with ’em, there’s a number of
tests that you administer and that you train people on. Well, you don’t want all that experience to leave right away. So I think the good
thing is it’ll give you a little bit of job security
for a little bit of time. – [Participant] But the
voluntary system program that you’re just talking about, so for example if I’m willing
to volunteer in that program, I have to go to all training
first that you just talk about? – Yeah, most places will make you go through the training because– – [Participant] While
volunteering in school? – Yes, yeah. Volunteering in the research lab. This is something that’s mandated by a lot of institutions and follows the guidelines of the federal government. Today we have a lot of
rules and regulations that are in place when you’re dealing with research concerning human subjects. Children are considered
a vulnerable population. So they wanna make sure that you know how to conduct a research appropriately. And so you have to go
through a training course. And it’s uniform through the country, takes about four to six hours. – [Participant] Yes, that’s
what I was gonna say. – [Participant] But it’s
divided once a week, the training course is once
a week until you complete it. – It’s an online course.
– Oh, it’s an online course. – You can do it one fell swoop,
so you can do it one day, sit there at the computer for six hours, or you can do it over
the course of a week. – [Participant] Okay, so those
training are free, right? – The school will pay for it. If they say that they’re gonna
take you in as a volunteer, you take the course at their charge. Some places, too, might run
a background check on you. That depends. But there’s gonna be an
investment of time here. – [Participant] And that’s
good for how many years? I’ve forgotten. – Used to be five, now it’s three. – [Participant] Yeah,
so once you’re trained, it’s good for three years? – [Participant] It’s like
you’re saying networking, but let’s say I wanna be a
junior for two to tree years, and if I’m gonna be working in a lab as a research assistant, like the kids, you know, like I made my
connections to school. I mean do you think
it’s a high possibility I might get hired in that school? Since they know me– – So if you have
connections in the school, will working in a lab help you out in any way to get a job in the school? Well, I think that’d be a great question for Pressor Spradley or Miss Ron. – [Participant] If you’re
interested in working in a school, I think, and you’re gonna
do some volunteer work, it’s probably to your advantage to be connected with the
school that you want to go to so that people in that environment can see what you’re capable of doing, how you interact with the staff
and the students and so on. But don’t discount what
he’s describing because that can also work to your advantage. So it doesn’t mean that
you have to sort of let that opportunity
go to pick up this one. So the volunteer, what he’s describing is volunteer as well, but you have to do the CITI. In the schools you don’t. – I think what would be
very interesting, though, if you wanna be pursue teaching is to even see what we do
in the lab with children, how we assess them, how we
figure out their abilities, what we’re looking at these days in terms of what we’re
trying to understand more, because I think it’ll
enrich your knowledge and give you a different perspective. So I don’t think in any
way it can hurt you. I think it can only help you. – [Participant] I mean you
can take some strategies from working with them in the lab and apply it to your classroom. – Mm-hmm, absolutely. – [Participant] Research
specifically allows you to get that knowledge from the child or is all research for
children started that way? – I think that’s a great question. I think probably you wanna focus on research that either
concerns social development or cognitive development. Or maybe the primary interest is not maybe on cognitive
or social development, maybe for instance there’s a project going on I know in the city these days. And they’re looking at
the effect of toxins on the development, environmental toxins. But when you read a little further they will tell you their concern with how it influences
cognitive development. I think that would be a benefit because when you’re looking at cognition you’re going to be interested in things, how children are thinking,
how are they planning, how are they reading,
how are they spelling, what’s their math like. And more than likely you’re gonna be doing a lot of standardized assessments. And I think that will
facilitate your knowledge. So that’s what I would look for. Generally you’re gonna see that in the ad, too, for the position. They’ll give you a one or
two sentence description of the research you’re doing. They’ll tell you. So they don’t want you to come exactly blind to the research. They want you to be aware a bit of what you’re gonna be doing. Well, thank you very much.
– Thank you. (crowd applauds)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *