A Day in the Life of a Research Assistant

The research assistants of AppleCORE intended to write a blog describing “A Day in the Life of an RA” but quickly realized that every day is different for an RA at Datacorp. To properly define the role of an RA in this company, it is better to write about the general day-to-day experiences instead. The job title says it all, research assistants assist all other staff members in any way they can! To be an RA at Datacorp, you need to be innovative, efficient, willing to learn, and above all else, a team player.

There are some consistent RA tasks, such as the simplistic yet laborious task of coordinating meetings. This includes calling for agenda items, constructing the agenda, sending out the agenda to necessary staff, and ultimately taking meticulous notes about the meeting’s agenda. Needless to say, an RA must understand the importance of an agenda! On the other hand, there are some very arbitrary RA tasks that can unexpectedly pop-up on their to-do list.

RAs get to do a little bit of everything, which is usually a great way for them to determine their interests. They are exposed to a little bit of SPSS, a little bit of SAS, and even a little bit of SQL, which all usually result in a considerable amounts of web browsing to figure out why they received an output full of warnings and errors! RAs become office experts on all of the tools in the Microsoft suite. They learn Word tips and tricks such as impressing staff members with the magic of Format Painter. Overall, they view formatting as an art form. They become fluent in Excel macros and functions. They organize their supervisors’ Outlook inboxes with sophisticated rules and folder structure. They are, for some reason, the only populace capable of setting up a WebEx conference or operating the Polycom, which is really just a fancy speaker phone. Proficient RAs will become glorified personal assistants for all staff members. They will answer the phones, take messages, track action items, update task information, and provide quality assurance through copious amounts of checklists that guide their lives as RAs. In short, they keep track of things and just check things that need checking! All these tasks reflect the many ways that research assistants at Datacorp assist their fellow staff members.

The best part about being an RA at Datacorp is the variety. There is never a dull day! This ever-changing schedule allows RAs to hone in on what they are interested in and develop those skills. Working at Datacorp provides a multidisciplinary environment for RAs to find their niches. When first starting at Datacorp an RA tends to be fresh from college and just entering the work force, but the experiences gained at Datacorp quickly develop interests and the drive to strive for further advancement. While the interests and career goals differ between RAs, the position allows RAs to develop many skills and follow different paths of learning. These opportunities can take the form of anything from internal promotions to pursuing graduate degrees. Currently, three RAs are Master’s degree candidates all while still working full-time at Datacorp! Kaitlyn has been a research assistant for over a year and will start to take courses in the fall at the University of New Haven for Computer Science. Melissa has been a research assistant for over two years and is enrolled at the University of Illinois Chicago for Public Health. Kayla has been a research assistant for nearly three years and is currently attending Rhode Island College for Psychology. Although these three paths seem like very different fields, they are all interests found through employment at Datacorp.

Through the tutelage of senior staff and the varied work experience, RAs with very similar roles and responsibilities have found what they wanted to do with the extensive working knowledge Datacorp has provided. Even though having such versatile work days made it challenging to summarize a typical day’s work at Datacorp for this blog, without that versatility the RAs would not have the same kind of opportunities for personal growth and development!