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How much does TAing/RAing matter?


actuallyatree

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Does having TA or RA experience during a masters degree make a difference when looking for work, or applying to a PhD? Three of the programs I have applied for reserve all their TA and RA positions for their PhD students, and so leaving aside the financial advantages of having such a position, will not being a TA during my masters hurt me down the road?

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If it's the norm for MA programs in PoliSci not to fund people, then I don't see how it would hurt your PhD application. If you happened to get into a funded one, though, then it might help your application. It's similar in English; teaching is a bonus for people with an MA, not an expectation.

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I've heard that PhD applicants with masters degrees are held to higher standards, expected to have published more and have more research experience than candidates that are just out of undergrad. That's where being an RA can help, but of course that must vary between schools and departments.

Being a TA helps you improve your presentation and communication skills, which is very useful no matter where you end up in your career.

But when it comes to jobs, being a TA might give you an edge if you apply for a teaching position and being an RA might help if you apply to a research position. 

If you can afford to, you should be able to volunteer for a professor whose work you're interested in. These restrictions are most often there because of a limited budget, so if you don't need the cash you can still get the other perks. Working close to a professor should make it easier to get into PhD with them later, and they could possibly help your chances with professors they know in other programs. 

Edited by Bethdv
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I am also interested in this question.  I may potentially have an RA/TA position during my first year of grad school, and while I'd be ecstatic to take the opportunity for financial purposes, I'd also be interested in seeing how this would affect my job prospects postgrad.  If it matters, I'm attending a "professional" program, and not a traditional graduate school.

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TA/RA positions for Poli Sci masters students seems to be the norm in Canada, whereas it does not seem to be the case in the UK. At least one, and possibly both, of the Canadian schools I have applied to guarantee TA funding, so it doesn't look like it would set me apart from any other Canadian graduate students.

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I am also interested in this question.  I may potentially have an RA/TA position during my first year of grad school, and while I'd be ecstatic to take the opportunity for financial purposes, I'd also be interested in seeing how this would affect my job prospects postgrad.  If it matters, I'm attending a "professional" program, and not a traditional graduate school.

I wouldn't see many occupations where being a TA would be helpful post-graduation unless it was something that involved teaching as a core component. Being an RA could be of minor help or importance, but if it was a research-based position post-graduation it is more important that there be productivity (papers and presentations) rather than simply having the title of research assistant.

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I wouldn't see many occupations where being a TA would be helpful post-graduation unless it was something that involved teaching as a core component. Being an RA could be of minor help or importance, but if it was a research-based position post-graduation it is more important that there be productivity (papers and presentations) rather than simply having the title of research assistant.

 

As someone who entered the professional rat-race after completing my undergrad degree, I can tell you with certainty that TAing does give you invaluable experience that you can use to your advantage when applying for and starting a professional career. There are so many skills that you use regularly as a TA - you are expected to mentor other students, present in front of large audiences, synthesize and summarize accuratelky, and it indicates an ability to work under another person in a non-research capacity.

 

I was an undergraduate TA, and I was able to use that experience to get my first job after completing university. While many academics may look at their experience in university as only preparing them for academic work, the most successful of us are those who can see the skills we gain in university as TRANSFERABLE, and can market them as such.

 

 

I am also interested in this question.  I may potentially have an RA/TA position during my first year of grad school, and while I'd be ecstatic to take the opportunity for financial purposes, I'd also be interested in seeing how this would affect my job prospects postgrad.  If it matters, I'm attending a "professional" program, and not a traditional graduate school.

 

I think TA experience would be even more important for a professional program, since your end-goal is likely to work in the private sector. Any experience you may have working in your chosen field will benefit you when you graduate. TAing definitely qualifies as work experience. One of my TA positions was for a qualitative research methods class, and when I was looking for work in the public opinion research industry (which is what I currently do), I was able to demonstrate that I had a thorough understanding of the methods employed by people in my chosen industry because I had taught them to other people.

Edited by Kaitri
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As someone who entered the professional rat-race after completing my undergrad degree, I can tell you with certainty that TAing does give you invaluable experience that you can use to your advantage when applying for and starting a professional career. There are so many skills that you use regularly as a TA - you are expected to mentor other students, present in front of large audiences, synthesize and summarize accuratelky, and it indicates an ability to work under another person in a non-research capacity.

 

I was an undergraduate TA, and I was able to use that experience to get my first job after completing university. While many academics may look at their experience in university as only preparing them for academic work, the most successful of us are those who can see the skills we gain in university as TRANSFERABLE, and can market them as such.

 

 

 

I think TA experience would be even more important for a professional program, since your end-goal is likely to work in the private sector. Any experience you may have working in your chosen field will benefit you when you graduate. TAing definitely qualifies as work experience. One of my TA positions was for a qualitative research methods class, and when I was looking for work in the public opinion research industry (which is what I currently do), I was able to demonstrate that I had a thorough understanding of the methods employed by people in my chosen industry because I had taught them to other people.

 

Good points. I was thinking about the question strictly in terms of whether RA/TA experience would help you on paper.  I totally agree with your take about how it could develop a skill such as that you described. 

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Good points. I was thinking about the question strictly in terms of whether RA/TA experience would help you on paper.  I totally agree with your take about how it could develop a skill such as that you described. 

I still think it would help. It is such as much work experience as any other job. It is even relevant experience too.

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