Application cycles for RA openings vary from place to place, but for positions that start over the summer, the earliest postings start popping up the previous fall and the latest could appear in mid- to late-spring. Many positions get filled on a rolling basis, so if you’re definitely interested in working as an RA, it’s a good idea to start looking in early fall for positions starting the following summer (e.g. search beginning September 2020 if you want to start in summer 2021). However, don’t lose hope if your fall applications are unsuccessful! Plenty of positions are posted throughout the year.
Below, we list some useful sites for finding RAships by category of RA job.
In addition to checking websites, word-of-mouth is also a great way to find out about vacancies. Consider asking your professors and peers if they know of past students who have worked as RAs, and reach out to them to learn more about their work and whether their employer may be hiring. Professors and others in your professional network may also know of colleagues who are hiring and could help pass your name on directly.
- Sites aggregating postings
- Academic groups that reliably hire several full-time RAs every year
- Other academic centers that might post openings, depending on the year
- Faculty’s individual websites
- University job portals
- The Federal Reserve, based in different cities, hire RAs every year at 13 sites around the country (including DC, New York, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, as well as smaller cities). See here for a helpful compilation of the sites and when they hire.
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)
- Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)
- USA Jobs portal
- Work on/in developing countries: Note that these websites list positions with a wide range of geographic locations, from RAships based at universities in the U.S. to RAships on the ground running experiments in developing countries.
- Work on/in the U.S.
No two RA positions are the same! Before you invest time in applying to a position, you may want to consider some of the pros and cons we mention here. You may also want to look into the following factors:
- Interest in the research projects: read some abstracts by the professors or organization you’re considering working for. Are you interested in them?
- Visa sponsoring: will your employer sponsor your visa? See our section on visas for more information on this.
- Travel: will you be expected to travel a lot for work? This is more relevant for development research or if your PI is temporarily located away from their “home” institution.
- Benefits: what are the health insurance and dental coverage options like?
Some positions may provide this information directly on their website. For instance, the Chicago Federal Reserve clearly states that they offer RAs “health, dental and vision insurance, commuter and health club benefits, and a 401(k) savings plan.” If there is a factor that is particularly important to you and this information is not readily available online, you may want to inquire before applying.