Students Interested in URAP Research Assistant program

Students looking for a Research Assistant position should reach out to faculty they’d like to work with well ahead of the deadline (October 16 for Academic Year and April 22 for Summer). If you would like help figuring out how to find and contact faculty, you are encouraged to attend one of our workshops on finding a faculty mentor (held weekly!) or come talk with an advisor

 

If the deadline for faculty applications has passed, you can apply for the open RA-positions listed by Faculty who have been awarded a URAP grant but haven’t yet selected a student. Be aware that there may not be an open position in your major or research area, and that competition for the positions is very high. As always, when referring to or communicating with academics, ensure you are using their correct title: Prof. or Dr., not Mr. / Ms. Further guidelines for writing your application are available on the application page.

Deadline: 

Deadlines for faculty submission of applications:            

2018-19 Academic Year URAP deadline: Tuesday, October 16, 2018

2019 Summer URAP deadline: Monday, April 22, 2019

 **If students apply jointly with a faculty member, they will receive an email within 15 minutes after the faculty member has submitted the application, asking for the student's resume and cover letter. The student must complete this portion of the application within 24 hours of the application deadline, or it will not be considered by the faculty review committee. 


Deadlines for Open Hiring (for student applicants):

Faculty who have been awarded URAP funds but are still looking for a student RA will list advertisements on this webpage (coming early November); to receive notification of when advertisements have been placed, sign up for the Undergraduate Research Weekly Blast.    

                2018-2019 Academic Year URAP: Early November 2018

                2019 Summer URAP: Mid-May 2019

Eligibility: 

Eligible Applicants:

  • Undergraduate Northwestern students who are new to research
  • Undergraduate Northwestern students who are interested in conducting research in a new field that is significantly different than their previous research
  • **After Fall 2018, students who have already received a URAP award will no longer be eligible for a second award. We made this decision in an effort to support as many students as possible. Our goal is to help URAP alumni instead transition into independent projects or other opportunities that advance their research experience, and increase the number of students getting started in research through URAP.

 

Ineligible Applicants:

  • Seniors graduating in the Spring cannot apply for Summer URAP positions
  • Seniors graduating early cannot be selected for Academic year URAP positions (given that most students do not begin working until Winter, and the student needs to be an active undergraduate student to be eligible).
  • Undergraduate Northwestern students who have already held a URAP positions
  • Undergraduate Northwestern students who are prepared to conduct independent research (you should apply for our independent research grants instead!)

Guidelines

What It Is: 

Why: The Office of Undergraduate Research believes that engaging in undergraduate research is a life changing experience for students that teaches them how to think critically and problem solve, and we seek to provide research opportunities to as many students as possible. Since we know that not all students are prepared to conduct independent research, the URAP program is our foundational program and is centered on strong Mentor/Mentee relationships between students and faculty. Faculty train and guide their student RAs, actively helping them develop research skills that will enable them to undertake their own independent research projects (and apply for URG grants) in the future. The application is therefore written and submitted by the Faculty Mentor, not by the student RA. 

When the grant has been awarded, Faculty Mentors are responsible for ensuring that all award and payroll paperwork is completed accurately and on time, and for approving the RA’s hours in the university’s timecard system, Kronos. Full details and instructions on post-award paperwork and the payroll/Kronos system are available here.

 

Where: Most URAP work occurs on campus, although this is not a requirement if both the Faculty Mentor and the Student RA will be located in the same place during the quarter they are working together. URAP pays only for hours worked so funds cannot be used for travel or other research-related expenses. 

URAP funds cannot be used to support research in a country subject to a U.S. Department of State travel warning. If safety issues exist in a research locale not on the Travel Warning List, the proposal must address the steps the Faculty Mentor will take to ensure safety.

 

When: Assistantships can take place during the academic year or over the summer, but there are separate deadlines for each.

Academic Year URAP

    • Students can begin working any time after November 18, 2018 IF they have submitted the appropriate payroll paperwork.
    • Student can work more heavily in one quarter than another, pending their course load and agreement with the faculty sponsor
    • Students can work over breaks, if agreed upon with faculty sponsor
    • Students CANNOT work more than 40 hrs/week; whether working for this job alone, or in combination with another part-time campus job
    • Students must complete & log all hours by May 31st, 2019 (last payroll deadline before Spring Exams begin)

Summer URAP

 

    • Students can begin working any time after 6/17/2019 (first day after Spring Exams end), IF they have submitted the appropriate payroll paperwork.
    • Students CANNOT work more than 40 hrs/week; whether working for this job alone, or in combination with another part-time campus job
    • If students choose to evenly space out the hours (and are given the maximum award), this comes to ~25 - 35 hours a week, pending how many weeks of summer they work (see funding information above)
    • Students CANNOT work more than 40 hrs/week; whether working for this job alone, or in combination with another part-time campus job
    • Students must complete & log all hours by the last pay period in the fiscal year (August 23, 2019)

 

How (Application process):

The best bet for students interested in a Research Assistant position is to find a faculty member they’d like to work with well ahead of the deadline (Tuesday October 16 for Academic Year and Monday April 22 for Summer). The faculty will then apply to the program with this particular student in mind. This is useful because the student does not have to compete with other students for positions, and it ensures that the position is in the student’s area of interest. If you are a student and would like help figuring out how to find and contact faculty, please come talk with an advisor.

 

If the deadline for faculty applications has passed, students can apply for the open RA-positions listed by Faculty who have been awarded a URAP grant but haven’t yet selected a student. Be aware that there may not be an open position in a student’s major or research area, and that competition for the positions is very high. Further guidelines for writing a student application to an open position are available on the application page.

 

Either way, the student will need to prepare a resume and cover letter to apply for the position.

 

EXPECTATIONS ON COVER LETTER AND RESUME SUBMISSION

You are applying for a position that is competitive – take the time to write a strong application. If you have not written a job application before we recommend you review the resources provided by Career Advancement before starting. The following tips should serve as a baseline; Students can receive additional advising on this process from Northwestern Career Advancement (NCA), and they can schedule an appointment through CareerCat. There are lots of helpful examples and resources on the NCA website, including a guide to creating a resume in 5 steps and information on cover letters.

FORMATTING:

  • Please keep both documents to a maximum of 1 page
  • Save documents as PDFs prior to submission
  • Minimum 11 point font

CONTENT:

  • Refer to faculty using their correct titles: "Prof" or "Dr", not “Ms” or “Mr”. (And it should go without saying that you should never be using "Miss" or "Mrs" in a professional context unless the person you are addressing has specifically asked you to address them that way.)
  • Introduce yourself so they know who is applying. In the first paragraph, it is a good idea to let the faculty mentor a) who you are, your year, and potential major or field of interest, and b) share how you found out about the job opening (ie did their colleague recommend it to you? Listserv? Course you are talking? Office of Undergraduate Research staff member? Additionally, if you have a residential college affiliation (ie Willard, Shepard, etc) please mention this as well.
  • Tailor your application to the job you are applying for. A potential employer wants to know why you are interested in this specific position, and to get an idea of the skills, qualities, and experiences you would bring to it. They are less interested in generic discussion of your personal history, or experiences that have no bearing on the job they want done. So refer to specific reasons why you are interested in this position, and give reasons (supported with evidence – see below) for why you are the best candidate for this job. You will not likely be a competitive candidate if you cannot articulate why a specific job is a good match for you, and what you hope to get out of it.
  • Provide evidence for your statements. It’s not enough to say “I am passionate about history/genetics/psychology/etc.” Why should the person reviewing your application take your word for it? And how does your claim to be passionate distinguish you from all the other applicants claiming exactly the same thing? Demonstrate your interest through concrete examples of things you have already done. E.g., what coursework have you taken? What independent study? What prior experiences show that you had some interest in this topic before you read the job ad?
  • Your application must be professional. A potential employer is interested in your professional experiences and academic goals, not your hobbies and childhood memories. When you describe your background and interest in the field, remember that this is a job application and not a dating profile.
  • Give your potential employer enough information to make a decision. If you only provide generic information and do not give much detail on yourself, how can a potential employer evaluate your interest in, and suitability for, the job?
  • Copy edit your application before you send it. This should be obvious…you WILL be judged if there are typos or spelling errors. Don’t let silly mistakes hold back your application. If you are applying to more than one position, log back into the system after you apply and confirm that you uploaded the right resume and the right cover letter for each position. If a faculty member receives an application addressed to a different mentor, they likely won't take your application seriously.

 

>>>> FOR A SAMPLE COVER LETTER, CLICK HERE.

>>>> FOR A SAMPLE RESUME, CLICK HERE.

 

What It Isn't: 

The Undergraduate Research Assistant Program is intended to be more than a normal RA-ship. The student is typically younger and has less experience, because we aim to fund students who haven’t yet had the opportunity to get involved in research. Likewise the faculty is expected to be an active mentor to the RA, working to actively teach them about research in their field along the lines of an apprenticeship. The RA’s work should involve active participation in the research process, rather than tasks like data-entry or photocopying. In return, the RA is expected to act responsible and efficiently, treating their position as a job rather than coursework. Lastly, we increased the hourly wage to $15/hr so that research could be a viable option for students with high financial need who might not otherwise consider research. If this aspect of URAP is critical to your ability to participate in research, consider mentioning this to your potential faculty mentor to advocate for yourself.