Graduate assistantships (GAs) provide students with an unparalleled opportunity to combine academic pursuits with work experience and make valuable professional connections. Their salary, which may consist of full or partial waiver of tuition, may also ease student loan burden once graduates enter the workforce. Duties vary based on type of GA job; such duties could include teaching, research or administrative tasks.
Some incoming graduate students may understand the advantages of an assistantship; others may not know the process involved in finding one. The first step should be speaking with your graduate adviser and/or departmental coordinator about potential GA positions; students should come prepared to discuss their qualifications, interests and what they hope to gain from such roles; this discussion is particularly crucial if a research assistantship is desired as this type of position requires more specific knowledge, training and background requirements.
Students should carefully consider which assistantship best matches their career goals. A research assistantship may be particularly appealing to students pursuing degrees in fields like biology, chemistry and biomedical engineering as this position typically involves conducting experiments and recording data. Students seeking this type of position should speak to their advisor professor about joining current or upcoming projects at their lab – they may even help apply for competitive National Institutes of Health grants that could fund such positions!
GA positions tend to be located on campus and can provide students with an opportunity to familiarize themselves with WIU faculty and staff while simultaneously gaining practical work experience. These roles offer convenient employment opportunities that can easily fit with classes and other degree-related activities, unlike their off-campus counterparts.
An GA may provide extra income that can assist with living expenses or supplement other forms of financial aid – an invaluable benefit for students attending programs with higher costs of attendance.
Once a GA has been chosen, their hiring manager will use the online Graduate Assistant Contract System to initiate a contract of employment. It is essential that they read this carefully in order to understand their responsibilities, salary and tuition waiver details. Student assistantship holders should abide by the terms of their contract, and contact their supervisor if any queries arise. Western Illinois University is an Equal Opportunity Employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, age, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, ancestry, disability status veteran status or any legally protected status. For more information please see their nondiscrimination policy.