As an incoming first year MSW student I often felt lost in the introductory research course. Other students were well-versed in qualitative and quantitative data analyses while I was second guessed myself at every turn. Although I preserved through the foundation research course, I left the course feeling like an inadequate social work researcher. An opportunity presented itself to work with the Associate Dean over the summer as a Research Assistant, so I jumped on board! Working as an ‘RA’ was an invaluable experience and has forever changed my opinion and interest in social work research!
Working as an RA has provided me with pragmatic and useful exposure to research. Working with the Dean led to another research opportunity to work as an RA during my second year. There is a distinct difference between learning about literature reviews and writing a literature review. Furthermore, there is much more value in writing research questions and analyzing data than learning about it in a classroom. I have had the pleasure of working with Dr. Susan Snyder this past academic year to co-author at least one, hopefully two, manuscripts for publication. Working with Dr. Snyder has opened my eyes to the possibility of continuing my work in research.
Trust me- I was never the research guru. Math has always scared me. I am a macro student, but I enjoy working with clients and consumers. Please allow me to dispel the misnomer that working in research means no personal interactions, days spent behind computers, and crunching numbers. While yes, there is some of that, I have had plenty of ‘micro’ social work opportunities while conducting research. I urge all incoming students, and current first year students, to consider applying for RA positions! It is well worth your while!