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Choosing between an internship and being a TA


NCLSEA123

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I was a TA this past semester and really enjoyed it. An opportunity has arisen however, to work with a federal agency I hope to work for after I graduate. If I took the internship, the department would give me 3 hours of credit towards a course in my degree program, and I would get valuable work experience, however the internship is unpaid. It would also probably set me up pretty well to get a job with that agency after graduation. I would also have access to some excellent resources to conduct a research project related to my field. If I continued being a GTA, I would continue to get my tuition paid for, receive a stipend, and would be teaching an undergraduate course related to my graduate field of study. The MS I'm getting is most likely going to be my terminal degree and I'm not very interested in academia. Neither route should detract from my ability to maintain good grades. Which route would you choose and why?

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I would probably take the internship. If that agency is where you want to work, making a good impression and having connections there will be a big help when the time comes to search for a job. There are still some questions you should ask yourself, though. Be sure you know what you're getting yourself into in case the plan doesn't work out as you hope. Seems like taking the internship could get you in debt; if so, you need to ask yourself how much you are willing to invest in your education/future job and whether or not it's worth the price. How long will it take you to pay back the debt from the salary you expect to make at your new job? Do you have a backup plan in case you don't get that job? How difficult is it to get the kind of job you want without having the internship experience? Maybe you could still get the same job without getting into any debt. But just from the details you give, I would probably go for the internship.

Edited by fuzzylogician
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To be completely honest, I would stick with the TA position. I am poor and I rely on my stipend to pay the bills. I also don't want to acquire more debt in student loans (I have enough of those already). I really would like an internship that would provide more relevant work experience, but if it's unpaid then I don't know how I would get by. I don't know what your situation is though. If you don't need the money and you don't mind paying for your own tuition, then I would say go for the internship. It certainly sounds like it will help you get your foot in the door. Unless perhaps they would let you do something with them yet this summer? I don't know your field or what you would be doing, so I don't know if that is a possibility or not.

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To be honest, I probably wouldn't be taking on any debt at all if I did the internship, and if I did, it would be under $5000, and I have no other debt whatsoever. (I work another paid job 20 hours a week with another federal agency in a job unrelated to my studies) I easily was able to get A's being a TA and working 20 hours a week with the feds last semester, so I doubt it would be an issue if I did the internship instead. Also with both options, I would be enrolled for 9 hours, however the internship would count as 3, while if I were a TA, I'd have to take another class. The class I would be teaching is related to my major though, so I don't know........ Throwing the money issue out the window, what would you do?

Edited by NCLSEA123
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You couldn't do both? My last semester of my master's I did a 20 hr/wk assistantship, 15 hr/wk internship, and took a normal load of 3 classes. I also was preparing for my comprehensive exams and writing my seminar paper.

Granted it was a bit crazy at times and required a lot of long days but it was really helpful as my assistantship paid my tuition and gave me a stipend and my unpaid internship gave me the experience and network that allowed me to secure a job when I graduated.

It's one alternative, but you would have to know yourself well and whether you can handle juggling all those responsibilities.

Edited by ZeChocMoose
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