Bread, Butter and Resumé Boost 2: Rocking the two worlds of RAship and TAship

Continuing the fabulous discussion on on-campus jobs initiated by Ale (tbh, one of my favorite posts on this blog!), today we are going to peak into another cohort mate of ours, Ian’s experience of working on campus while enrolled as a full-time student at IEDP. Ian is working as a Research Assistant at App Inventor Academy and Teaching Assistant for EDEN 510 Educational Evaluation for Innovation. Ian for sure does have a lot on his plate, like many others we have introduced and will introduce in this series! In the midst of his hectic days, Ian spared a few minutes to answer a few questions I had about his working experience as a graduate student.

How did you find your job? (Where did you find the announcement? What did the application process look like?)

My background is in STEM education so I looked at the list of GSE faculty members and reached out to one of the professors who does research in STEM education. I sent her an e-mail to introduce myself and I also told her that I am interested in assisting her in her research projects. After that, she asked me to call her and we talked over the phone and told me about her ongoing research projects. I eventually applied for the position to be a research assistant and that’s how I got my RA position. For my teaching assistant job, my advisor offered me to work as his TA. I think the reason as to why he offered me the position is because ever since the third week of the fall semester, I have been telling him how I want to specialize in the field of evaluation. I did my best in every class and made sure to put in as much effort as I could in every assignment that he gave.

For his RA position, Ian got to attend Carver Science Fair and became a judge for the poster session.

What are the responsibilities of your position?

For the research position, we are currently working on a series of professional development (PD) sessions for science teachers. That includes coming up with the conceptual framework and research protocol for a high quality PD, which involves a lot of literature review. For my TA job, my main task is to check the assignments of the students in the class. I also help out in thinking of ways to make class sessions more engaging. Of course, I also attend the class sessions so that I get a good idea of the context where the students are coming from

What is the working environment like? (How many colleagues do you have? What’s the organization structure like? How “demanding” is it? How many hours do you work?)

For my research position, I work with a team of 5 other GSE students. We are led by doctoral student who is the advisee of the professor we’re working for. I would say that is demanding because the research would not push forward if we do not work on it on a regular basis. I have had moments that I had to sleep at 3am to work on some outputs for the research (take note, I had a 9am class the day after). For my TA job, the class is taught by three professors so I provide support for all of them. Since that class that I’m a TA for is a required course for an executive degree, I do not have a regular weekly work schedule for that. There would be weeks that I need to work for at least 4 hours checking papers but there would also be weeks that I do not work on anything.

Do you think your on-campus job is relevant to what you’d like to pursue in your career after IEDP? If so, how?

I think both of my jobs are relevant to what I want to pursue in the future. The research we are working on is heavy on educational technology, which can be applied in ICT4D settings. All my class electives are geared towards monitoring and evaluation so having a TA experience helps me understand the field better. TBH, I also think those things would look good on my resume. 😀 Hahaha! (Note from Hannah: Just as the series title says — bread, butter and resumé boost!)

One of the studies that won the competition at the science fair!

Pros and cons of working on campus in addition to being enrolled full-time?

Pros: I do believe that the more free time a person has, the more time that person wastes. I make sure that every minute I have is something that will help me become a better person and help me land a good job in the future. Big pro is I get to pay for all my expenses here and I still get to save (and send stuff back home).

Cons: Because I am also a full time student, I am tired. Always. I lack sleep. I’m not going to lie. Ha ha ha! But I chose to have all these so I am sticking to what I committed to. A lot of people have commented how tired I look and how much older I look compared to before, but hey, I chose to commit to all these and I have no regrets. I’m actually glad to have all these opportunities come my way.

Any tip for those trying to work on campus?

Tips: Do not wait for the opportunities to come to you, you have to chase after those opportunities. You are coming here to be a better version of yourself and academics alone will not make you a better development professional. Not everyone gets accepted into an Ivy League school, make the most out of your experience. For a person like me who needs to work to be able to pay for living expenses here, do not be picky in choosing on campus jobs, especially the paid ones. Feel free to shoot me an e-mail if you have more questions. I am more than willing to help.

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