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4 steps to landing a graduate assistantship

Friday, October 10, 2014
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4 steps to landing a graduate assistantship
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Students looking for help to fund their advanced degree can do so with grants, scholarships and college financial aid. They might also consider an alternative form of financial help: a graduate assistantship.

Graduate assistantships are typically available to students seeking additional financial and professional benefits. In addition to providing a wage for a job on or close to campus, these opportunities typically cover either a portion or the total cost of tuition. As a result, they're heavily sought after. Here's how students can grab the attention of the hiring manager and land a spot as a graduate assistant at their school.

1. Focus on your studies
It may seem counterintuitive for students to focus on their schoolwork when they want to spend their time applying for an assistantship, but the higher their GPA, the more attractive they'll be to hiring managers. Additionally, according to the Houston Chronicle, those who are striving for a graduate assistant job with a sports coach should start by playing the sport they'd like to coach. Similarly, students in other fields of study should establish strong relationships with professors in the department in which they'd like to be employed.

2. Talk to other graduate assistants
The best source of knowledge for the application process are those who have been through it themselves. Interested students should meet with a few students who work for the school and see how they got their position. They can walk them through the process step by step and introduce them to those who interviewed and hired them. Also, they may be able to refer interested students and put in a recommendation that could move their application to the top of the pile. It's helpful for students to network with people who are in their chosen field.

3. Apply to relevant positions
Since there are so many perks that come with a graduate assistantship, it's likely that students will be faced with a great deal of competition. As a result, it's important for them to apply for positions to which they can provide value. If they major in chemistry, for example, it may be in their best interest to apply for work in the science department. The benefits are twofold, as students can help fund their education and gain valuable experience in their field of interest. However, as internship and employment online resource Idealist explained, it's not always completely necessary to apply for positions directly in your major. Certain skills can be beneficial in various fields of study, so students should consider if their skills can translate into positions in a department separate from their chosen field.

4. Follow up accordingly
In the same way that it's important for professionals to follow up on their employment application, students should reach out to professors and/or hiring managers after completing a graduate assistantship application. By reaching out to professors who are involved in the process, students can further demonstrate their enthusiasm for the position and help the professor understand what kind of worker they'd be.

By Monique Smith

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