Graduate assistantships provide an ideal way for graduate students to gain practical work experience while they are still in school, build their resume, reduce student loan debt and jump-start the job search process. Furthermore, the pay can assist with covering living expenses during your graduate study period.
Graduate assistantships usually fall into one of two categories – teaching or research. Your choice often depends on the field and department that interests you; for instance, science students might prefer research assistantships that include designing experiments, conducting them successfully, collecting data for analysis and recording results; however, administrative assistantships might offer similar duties while helping manage office processes or organizing academic conferences.
Many positions available depend on departmental needs and funding availability, making securing one a difficult proposition. Competition among applicants for graduate assistantships can be fierce – you will probably need an impressive undergraduate record, write an essay describing why you would make the ideal fit, meet other criteria requirements etc. to land one of these jobs.
As part of your term of service, you will be expected to attend training and workshops as required to understand your responsibilities. Furthermore, permanent employees adhere to the same standards of professionalism that temporary employees adhere to and comply with The State Officials and Employees Ethics Act (5ILCS 430/510). Finally, before beginning each assignment you are required to take an online ethics training module as well as annual updates after that.
Your hours of work depend on the level of appointment (A, B or C). In exchange for this work, you’ll receive a monthly stipend and tuition is waived during any semester or summer session during which you work. Most appointments require signing a contract; once complete it will be reviewed by both your supervisor and graduate advisor before being sent for acceptance to Graduate School.
On a half-time graduate appointment, you may work up to 20 hours each week with coursework taking up 50%. Full-time appointments typically involve 30 hours each week of work.
Your work schedule may change from semester to semester and it is vital that you keep your supervisor apprised of any schedule adjustments or absences promptly. Registration for reduced study load depends on your level of appointment and course deadlines; for GAs who also apply for faculty parking privileges and priority student housing. In addition, the University offers partial health insurance premium coverage; they pay 80 percent of Individual plans costs while 70 percent goes toward Family policies.