Home > Employment
Preparing students for the New Economy in the 21st century
is a cornerstone of the ACTION for Health project. With
positions available for students of every level - from undergraduate
to post-doctoral - this project will prove to be the
training ground for the leaders of tomorrow.
Please take a moment to read these Frequently Asked
Questions about employment opportunities with the project.
The answers below only represent Ellen Balka's policies
for the Vancouver-based research team; other Co-investigators
may have different employment policies and practices so
they should be consulted for details.
1. What is the relationship between the Assessment
of Technology in Context (ATIC) Lab and the ACTION for Health
2. The ACTION for Health project consists
of a number of sub-projects. Which sub-project(s) would
I be assigned if hired?
3. Who do you hire?
4. When do you hire?
5. What sort of academic background is preferred
in your staff?
6. What kinds of "hard" skills do
you look for when hiring?
7. What are some of the "soft" skills
that you look for when hiring?
8. Where do staff on such an international
9. What are some of the workplace expectations?
10. What are the business hours for the project?
11. Are these full-time or part-time positions?
12. Will my hours of work be flexible?
13. My friend is an Research Assistant and
she/ he works whenever and wherever she/ he likes. Why must
ACTION for Health staff keep regular hours?
14. Will I be required to work overtime?
15. Are these employment opportunities paid
16. Are there any benefits available for
17. Do these positions belong to a union?
18. Are there long-term employment prospects
with the ACTION for Health project or the ATIC Lab? Is it
possible for my Co-op position to continue beyond graduation?
19. As a graduate student, can my thesis
research work build on research undertaken at the ACTION
for Health project?
20. What will I gain from working on the
ACTION for Health project?
21. How will working on the ACTION for Health
project benefit my non-academic career goals?
22. How can I apply?
1. What is the relationship
between the Assessment of Technology in Context (ATIC) Lab
and the ACTION for Health project? [top]
The SFU ATIC Lab is based in the School of Communication,
where the lab studies a number of different technologies
in their situated contexts depending on research grants.
The ACTION for Health project, on the other hand, has a
narrower scope - it is funded to only study the social aspects
of technology in the health sector. Since both teams are
lead by Dr. Ellen Balka's research, the two groups have
temporarily amalgamated into one to share resources and
expertise to facilitate research. That said, both groups
are maintaining separate but inter-related identities: ATIC
lab members not only contribute to the ACTION for Health
project but are also responsible for projects specific to
the ATIC Lab.
2. The ACTION
for Health project consists of a number of sub-projects.
Which sub-project(s) would I be assigned if hired? [top]
A number of factors help determine a student's work assignment.
Project needs such as the status of the research, budget
allocation, location of applicant, and current and future
staffing needs are taken into consideration. In addition,
the needs and ability of the student also play a role in
the final decision. It is not the intention of f the project
to ask a student to participate in a study she/he has no
3. Who do you hire?
We hire primarily students - undergraduate (usually as Co-Op
or Work-Study students at our team members' institutions),
graduate (master's and doctoral level) and post-doctoral
fellows. Because most of our research funds require that
we hire only students, we almost never have openings for
Note: Our definition of a student varies
according to funding agencies and Simon Fraser University
4. When do you hire?
We hire year-round according to project needs: you should
contact the Project Co-ordinator directly if you are interested
in working for the project. The Project Co-ordinator can
tell you if we are currently hiring or if we expect to be
hiring in the near future. Positions for undergraduate students
tend to coincide with the beginning of each semester: Fall
(September), Spring (January) and Summer (May).
5. What sort of
academic background is preferred in your staff? [top]
Our research is multi-disciplinary so there is no preference
for staff of a particular field of study. In the past, our
staff have academic backgrounds ranging from Communication,
Sociology, Anthropology, English, Political Science, Journalism,
Computer Science, Engineering, Women's Studies, Business
to Health Sciences.
6. What kinds of
"hard" skills do you look for when hiring?
First and foremost, we look for students who have taken
research methods courses and or have relevant academic research
experience (qualitative and quantitative). Many of our projects
require staff to engage in the collection of data in field
settings such as hospitals, libraries and doctor's offices:
anyone filling such positions need to be conversant with
research theory, design, ethics, methodologies and analysis
- in other words, staff need to have performed well in research
Being comfortable with learning and using new technologies
is also an important asset in staff - this is especially
true for a research team as geographically dispersed as
the ACTION for Health team, which relies heavily on technologies
like email and the internet to facilitate communication,
collaboration and research.
Although we train staff to use software specific to the
project, it would be beneficial if incoming staff were already
familiar with some of the software we regularly use. This
includes bibliographic (e.g., Reference Manager, EndNote),
qualitative data analysis (e.g., Nvivo), quantitative data
analysis (e.g., SPSS), and visual-mapping software (e.g.,
Ability to back-up computers, to operate CD-rewritable
drives, to perform anti-virus updates and or to maintain
websites are other skills that are valuable to the project.
7. What are some
of the "soft" skills that you look for when hiring?
We look for people who have a demonstrated interest in some
aspect of the work undertaken. For example, staff might
have an interest in issues related to technology and society,
health sector work and or intellectual property. That said,
we do occasionally hire students for tasks that do not require
an interest in the research area such as web design and
event co-ordination: the availability of these positions
depend entirely on project needs.
Most importantly, staff need to be effective team players
who work well independently, are detail-oriented and are
able to meet deadlines. Successful candidates should also
be willing to make an ongoing commitment to the project:
a minimum of one-semester, with preference given to students
who are available for work for more than one semester.
8. Where do staff
on such an international project work? [top]
As an international project with multiple research sites,
there is opportunity for students to work in Britain, Austria,
Australia or even across Canada. Students are expected to
relocate to the site of research without financial assistance
or compensation from the project.
Although Co-investigators are responsible for recruiting
their own staff, you should first consult the Project Co-ordinator
to see if there are any opportunities abroad before applying.
The Project Co-ordinator is only responsible for recruitment
for Vancouver-based sub-projects.
Click here for information
on living and working in Vancouver, Canada.
9. What are some
of the workplace expectations? [top]
No matter where project staff are located, they are expected
to go to the place of employment and or research site(s)
on a regular basis; telecommuting is generally discouraged,
as it can hinder communication and workflow. Staff are also
expected to regularly back-up their work to enable data
recovery in the event of equipment failure.
10. What are the
business hours for the project? [top]
Business hours are between 9:00am and 5:00pm.
11. Are these full-time
or part-time positions? [top]
The ACTION for Health project offers both full-time (in
summer or if work coincides with thesis work) as well as
part-time employment opportunities. Whether you work full-time
or part-time, you will be expected to work regularly scheduled
hours (e.g., every Thursday and Friday). Unless research
design requires you to work outside of normal working hours,
you will be working during business hours (see Q10).
Note: Part-time = up to 16 hours per week; Full-time =
up to 37.5 hours per week
As students, your studies are your first priority so SFU
has defined a maximum number of hours per week you are permitted
Co-Op Education Students
the thesis-writing stage, graduate students are required
to further reduce the number of hours they work.
12. Will my hours
of work be flexible? [top]
Although some flexibility is possible (e.g., re-arranging
working hours during the exam period), all such alternate
arrangements must be cleared in advance with Project Co-ordinator
and or Co-investigators.
13. My friend is a Research Assistant
and she/ he works whenever and wherever she/ he likes. Why
must ACTION for Health staff keep regular hours? [top]
The nature of the ACTION for Health project demands that
the work environment be collaborative, where staff can work
closely together to share knowledge, pass skills, and to
assist one another. In order for these activities to occur,
staff must see one another regularly to facilitate communication
and work flow. After all, it is easier to work as a team
when staff members can anticipate the availability of the
rest of the team.
14. Will I be required
to work overtime? [top]
You will not be asked to work beyond your maximum number
of hours as established by SFU policy. The only time you
would be required to work overtime would be if the project
you are assigned requires data collection beyond the project's
business hours. Typically, you would be given time off as
compensation for working overtime.
15. Are these employment
opportunities paid or unpaid? [top]
Most positions on the ACTION for Health project are paid.
The rate of pay varies with experience, skill-set, rank
of student (e.g., undergraduate, master's, doctoral or post-doctoral)
and conditions set by funding agencies. Undergraduate rates
are generally competitive with Co-Op pay rates, while graduate
rates are similar to the TA pay rates.
16. Are there any
benefits available for these positions? [top]
It depends on the policy of team members' institutions.
At SFU, staff paid on an hourly basis receive an additional
4% of salary per pay period, in lieu of vacation. Generally,
only full-time Post-Doctoral Fellows receive benefits.
17. Do these positions
belong to a union? [top]
It depends on the policy of team members' institutions.
Vancouver-based positions are not unionized.
18. Are there long-term
employment prospects with the ACTION for Health project
or the ATIC Lab? Is it possible for my Co-op position to
continue beyond graduation? [top]
We are not in a position to offer long-term employment after
staff complete their studies as dictated by funding agencies
- we can only employ students.
19. As a graduate
student, can my thesis research work build on research undertaken
at the ACTION for Health project? [top]
Yes, absolutely. As a staff member, you can either keep
your own research separate from ACTION for Health work and
treat your employment at the project like a job, or you
can integrate the work do you for the project into your
thesis research. Both models of employment are supported
at the ACTION for Health project and ATIC Lab. Please refer
to the ACTION for Health Intellectual Property Policy for
20. What will I
gain from working on the ACTION for Health project?
You will gain experience working in a collaborative research
environment on a large and international project. This will
provide you with exposure to all aspects of research from
project development to execution including: collaborating
with research partners and stakeholders; collecting and
analyzing documents; conducting literature reviews; conducting
data analysis and presenting research results to various
audiences. ACTION for Health staff will leave the project
with a strong set of research skills and a good sense of
what a career in academic research is all about.
21. How will working
on the ACTION for Health project benefit my non-academic
career goals? [top]
You don't have to aspire to be a scholar to benefit from
working on this research project! In fact, you can develop
a range of transferable skills that are in-demand in any
career. These skills include: project management experience,
communication skills, organizational skills, teamwork abilities,
networking know-how as well as the ability to meet deadlines.
With the health care sector fast becoming more multi-disciplinary
and prominent, get a head start on a career in this growing
field by joining the ACTION for Health team.
22. How can I apply?
To apply, forward your cover letter and resume/CV to Project Co-ordinator via email for consideration.
Indicate in your cover letter:
- Why you are interested in working for the ACTION for
- What skills you bring to the team
- Which aspect of the three research themes you are most
- How many hours a week you are available for work
- Where you are in your studies (number of credits) and
when you expect to complete your studies
- Include relevant (work or otherwise) experience and
academic background for project
Please be prepared to provide a copy of your unofficial
transcript to Project Co-ordinator upon request.
This FAQ did not address your particular question or concern?
Email your queries to Kelly, our Project Co-ordinator,
with "Employment" as
the subject line.
Job postings for students are available!