I have just finished my undergraduate degree and plan to apply to grad school in Cognitive Psychology. I know my field and am in touch with researchers, some of whom I have approached for a post bac research position (international student talking about positions in the USA). People agree to take me on, but do not have funding most of the time.
Working in a top lab gives you cutting edge research experience which may lead to a publication, a very strong letter of recommendation and a research mentor. (Only the second part is an assumption, the first and the last have been established by researching and shortlisting accordingly.) My undergraduate degree was from a technical school and I did not have access to good research labs while in college.
I have two questions.
1) Firstly, is it possible? Can you pay your own salary as a RA and be on a J1 visa? I hope to pay myself for 6 months and then try to impress and get them to help me fund the remaining 6.
2) Is it worth it? I know I could work as an RA/lab manager but assuming I do not get a funded position. I obviously would first try to get a funded one.