Volunteering as a research assistant in Dr. King's lab:
Research assistants (RAs) receive various assignments within the lab, including the following:
- extracting information from legal databases and the available research literature
- collecting data from participants
- scoring research measures
- entering paper records into electronic data files
- conducting data analyses, if able
- developing conference presentation submissions
- delivering conference presentations
- co-authoring papers with Dr. King
Master's students and undergraduate students who are interested in working as RAs within the lab must be able to devote 10 hours to lab work per week (including on site as needed). This includes attending an approximately hour-long weekly morning lab meeting.
Initial RA appointments are for one semester, but RAs who perform adequately can continue to work in the lab for as long as approved by Dr. King. Availability, dependability, and hard work in the lab is the route to a strong letter of recommendation from Dr. King.
I want to become a psychologist . . .
Students who are interested in obtaining admission to a master's or doctoral program relevant to clinical-forensic psychology are encouraged to get as close to two years of research experience in the lab as possible. This is in addition to
- studying long and hard to obtain a high GPA
- studying long and hard to score well on the GRE
- working with Dr. King well ahead of time to determine graduate programs that would make sense to apply to
- working with Dr. King well ahead of time to develop a strong personal statement and CV
- working with Dr. King well ahead of time to develop a personal statement that is tailored to each graduate program to which you are applying
- volunteering in a second lab to obtain a letter of recommendation from an additional faculty member who does research
- volunteering in a relevant human services setting to round out your experience and obtain a letter of recommendation from a human services provider
It is no doubt a lot of work. And the road to become a licensed psychologist (which requires earning a PhD or PsyD degree in clinical, counseling, or school psychology, among other things) who practices forensic psychology (which ideally involves specialty training in or soon after graduate school) is especially long and competitive. But the work is highly interesting, meaningful, and consequential, and it can also be fairly lucrative.
Some of these comments apply as well to related but distinct future careers, with their own graduate school training routes, including correctional psychologist, licensed professional counselor, licensed clinical social worker, certified alcohol and drug counselor, licensed marriage and family therapist, specialty probation or parole officer, and lawyer. I advise students in my lab about these alternative educational and career options, which may be a better fit for some of them.
Note: My lab is likely not a very good fit for students interested in forensic psychiatry, as psychiatry has a very different training route than applied psychology and the other human services. The same may also be true for students primarily interested in child advocacy, criminology, and law enforcement.