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I have to produce a copy of my CV in English and I don't know how to properly describe the position.

When I was a Master student, I was employed by a professor at our department, for whom I did some software development, some research, and anything the researchers didn't want to do by themselves (yes I had to clean the coffee machine). I think that such positions are regulated by law (at least they are here) and have a special, generally recognized name. Only I don't know that name in English.

If there are regional differences, I will need an American English variant.

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Busy? Stressed? – Orbling Jan 30 '11 at 2:56
up vote 6 down vote accepted

I think you are looking for research assistant. If you also did teaching, you were (also) a teaching assistant.

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I am not sure this is exactly what I am looking for, as I've only ever come across "research assistant" as a term for full-time employed graduate students, and I was part-time only. It is also somewhat unusual that I did research too, most students in this position get only non-creative tasks unrelated to research. – rumtscho Jan 30 '11 at 0:56
@rumtscho: Well perhaps it depends on the institution, I am not sure. Perhaps someone else can give you a better label. But you mentioned "full-time employed graduate students": how can a student be employed full time? When does he find the time to study? This would only be possible if his Master's programme consisted in being a research assistant. If you're not enrolled in a Master's programme and you are employed full time to assist a principal researcher at a university, you might be a research associate: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Research_associate – Cerberus Jan 30 '11 at 1:32
+1 in the US and Canada its RA ("Research Assistant"). If you did any research at all then you were an RA. If you lead tutorials/classes or marked assignments, then you were a TA ("teaching assistant") – bobobobo Jan 30 '11 at 3:40

As others have suggested, either Research Assistant or Teaching Assistant, depending upon your job requirements, are appropriate. It's perfectly fine and accurate to qualify your position as part-time, as in Part-Time Research Assistant. Beyond that, I'm not aware of any term that is somehow more precise or appropriate and I teach at a university. In fact, sometimes odd or less frequently encountered terms can be annoying on a CV, even if they're technically precise.

"What did you do here? Researchordinating Enablement Adminitemp?"

"Yes -- an REA. I came in part time and executed various, specified research tasks."

"So you were a part-time research assistant?"

"Well. I guess ... basically. Yes."

"You should probably just say that."


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Ha, I like this Researchordinating Enablement Adminitemp. I think I will put in on my CV, since it could mean anything... – Cerberus Jan 30 '11 at 5:12
It wouldn't bother me. I'd consider you for the creativity alone. Some profs, however, are less amused by novel terminology. – Lockjaw Jan 30 '11 at 5:15

I agree with Cerberus that RA or TA are the terms most often used at universities for the position described. The only other word I can offer is intern. That's certainly someone who would clean out coffee pots and the like.

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I would not say "intern" -- intern usually denotes an out of school educational experience at some business or corporation – bobobobo Jan 30 '11 at 3:41

Intern sounds like a fair term

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I would use the term student assistant. Research and Teaching Assistants are usually paid more and have goodies like tuition stipend, whereas student assistants get paid considerably less. I've done all three roles :)

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