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jferreir

SSHRC and Employment Restrictions

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Before I begin, let me quickly state that the following questions apply to the CGSM only (i.e. Masters).

Essentially, I'm trying to determine how many hours of work I can reasonably balance on top of my teaching and research commitments. My MA programme is coursework only, with 8 courses spread over 12 months (only 2 of which are for MA students only). In addition, I will receive at least 210 TA hours (as a grader). Naturally, the ability to balance work/teaching/research will vary by individual, but I'm looking for a general consensus (if there is one). I have only completed 3 graduate courses to date (at a different university), so I'm not sure what to expect in terms of workload. So, with that said...

According to SSHRC:

SSHRC expects award holders to devote the majority of their time to the timely completion of their degree programs. As a guideline in this context, the Council strongly suggests that award holders limit the number of hours of employment per 12-month period to 450. Universities may, however, set their own guidelines. Please contact your university for further information.

My Questions:

(1) Do most departments/universities discourage additional PT employment, or do they look the other way? Keep in mind that I have received a full funding package (I don't want to piss anyone off).

(2) Given my teaching and research commitments (noted above), how many hours would you personally recommend?

(3) In terms of securing additional employment, what would be your ideal position? That is, which position(s) do you feel provide the necessary flexibility for a graduate student?

So far, I have identified 3 possible positions:

- Exam Invigilator

- Student Ambassador

- Administrative Position (private sector)

All positions are flexible in scheduling, but only the administrative position has guaranteed hours (16-20 per week). The other two positions would probably require less than 10 hours per week, if/when available. The student ambassador position is the only one that would require limited transportation.

If it helps, I'm the type of person who is highly organized and motivated, yet I tend to stress out over nothing. That said, I have managed to keep my sanity throughout undergrad, where I received a greater number of assignments, in addition to my work and volunteer commitments.

Thanks for the help/advice and good luck to everyone!

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Most schools I looked at require that you not work another job if you're full time in the program and if you did work another job (at least pre-thesis writing) you risked losing your funding. I would e-mail the director and ask.

2-3 grad courses a semester plus TA duties seem like a fair amount to throw a job on top of but I think it depends on:

a) How well you are at balancing these things

B) What the job consists of (i.e. if you're sitting at a desk of a res and just calling security when some kid locks her/himself out of their room then you can just read)

c) What your courses actually consist of, particularly how much reading you're going to have to do.

d) What exactly your TA duties are. If you're attending lectures and reading for the class on top of marking then you're going to be in a time crunch anway.

Exam invigilator or the like might be good, and lots of grad students I know work in the writing centre at the university (almost always something they do after they're done coursework and funding runs out). I think the best job would be something like front desk person in a residence or one of those people who sit at a desk overnight and make sure people sign in with their ID cards to get into the labs or something similar. Anything where you can read.

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Are the 210 hours of TA work over one term? That sounds like a normal workload to me. It translates into about 12 hours a week, which is workable with a regular grad course load.

SSHRC has no way of knowing how many hours you work. When you apply for your PhD SSHRC, you will list your TA positions, but not the associated hours. No repercussions for working are likely going to come from SSHRC.

Your school is a different matter. There are a few levels there: your supervisor, your grad chair, and the larger grad studies admin office. Since you're doing pure coursework, your supervisor shouldn't be a problem. Your grad chair may have opinions about how much work is acceptable for students, and may disapprove of your workload. Hopefully they will be professional and not let it influence any decisions about you, but you never know. Grad studies has limited influence generally, but again, you may encounter some grumpy people. When I was going to apply for my third consecutive TAship during my MA SSHRC year (for a total of 630 hours of work over the year) I checked with grad studies to make sure that they wouldn't cut off my SSHRC payments for working too much. The woman looked at me like I had just admitted to planning on killing some puppies, and said "We're too busy to match TA assignments against SSHRC payments, but we *do* hope that people stick to the HONOUR SYSTEM". :lol:

My experience is that working is generally do-able, but it can be draining. I loved TAing so much that I got pretty wrapped up in it and it was a serious distraction from my work at times. My supervisor strongly suggested that I decline the third TAship and spend a term just reading and writing, and I did. It was a great decision. I not only got a ton of research done, but also have retained much more detail from the readings than I did in terms when I was teaching. Not having that extra stressor directly improved my focus and even memory.

It's easy to fall in love with the big paychecks that come from combining SSHRC and work (I could buy new clothes! And take occasional cab rides!) but living on less and throwing yourself into research has a lot of benefits.

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Hey I am in the same position as you - although I have to ask, what uni are you attending? At York I have been threatened on numerous occassions that the university will not pay out my SSHRC and a TAship. I've been hired for September but am worried they are going to take it away. Also, it's really frustrating because there is no specific regulation or policy outline such a restriction!!! Or FGS just likes to F*** with my head and my wallet!

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Thank you for the responses.

Just to clarify, my funding package consists of SSHRC funding, a departmental top-up, and a minimum of 210 TA hours over two semesters (possibly more). The questions I raised concerned additional employment above and beyond my TA responsibilities. I'm only seeking additional employment so I can eliminate my existing student debt. I'm working on the assumption that I will not find immediate employment upon graduation, which is why I want to pay down my debt before it begins to accrue interest.

In your opinion, is it advisable to seek additional employment above and beyond my existing responsibilities? Like I said, I'm highly organized and hard-working, but I have no idea how demanding the coursework will be. I just don't know if I will have enough time to balance everything without suffering from extreme burnout. In addition, I also have a 1.5-2 hour commute, one-way (damn PT!). Tentatively, I plan to use that time to catch up on readings... it still seems a bit tight, though. :(

Naturally, this all assumes that I'm allowed to hold additional employment (still waiting on a response from the graduate coordinator).

Virdisun:

To my knowledge, additional employment is restricted at the discretion of the university. Perhaps they wish to reserve the TA funding for those students who were unsuccessful in securing external funding? I would suggest that you contact your graduate coordinator and request more information. Personally, I find this whole process very confusing. And to answer your question, I will be attending U of T (while trying not to become a pretentious ass). I hope you enjoy York - many of my close friends did. :)

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Why not start fall semester with just the TAship and then build up your work hours from there as time allows? Politically, I'd say if anyone was going to object to you taking on additional work, they'd be more likely to object to private sector stuff than to additional on campus jobs.

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Why not start fall semester with just the TAship and then build up your work hours from there as time allows? Politically, I'd say if anyone was going to object to you taking on additional work, they'd be more likely to object to private sector stuff than to additional on campus jobs.

Well, a few reasons...

- There is no possibility of extending TA hours. TA positions for the entire academic year are assigned in late August.

- If any new positions come about, Ph.D. students get first dibs.

- The number of available jobs decreases sharply past September (especially the flexible on-campus ones).

If you were in my position, what would you do? WWJD?

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I would spend at least the first term just being a grad student.

You'll be amazed how much useful information you can get by simply being on campus, out at talks, and available to say yes to that invitation to attend someone's defense, go for beers, have tea with a prof, watch a job talk, etc. You'll be able to figure out who's good to work for, who to avoid, hidden deadlines, under-publicized funding opportunities, local conferences in your field, who to talk to to finagle deadlines, etc. Anything that decreases your flexibility has the potential to hurt you.

Besides, with SSHRC and a TAship you'll be making decent money. You might even be able to tuck some away to cover your first few loan payments in case you don't get a job right off the hop. You can pile on responsibilites and be superman, but why do it if you don't have to? Enjoy the luxury of devoting yourself full time to your studies. You earned it when you won that SSHRC.

That's what I would do. Jesus would probably live in a hovel and save most of his SSHRC to give to tax collecters and whores.

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In case anyone was curious... I am emailed SSHRC this week to inquire about the Employment Restrictions. They informed me that they will not allow students to work more than 15 hours a week at anytime during the 12 month period...

"Good morning,

Part-time employment is generally 10-15 hours a week. SSHRC regulations state

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It's a "strong recommendation" and they have absolutely no way of checking. Working certainly undermines the intention of the award (to save you from having to work) but they can't do anything if you decide to work. Unless you... I dunno... sent a detailed hours sheet directly to SSHRC with a note saying "haha fooled you". When I had my MA SSHRC (in the lighter second year of my MA, so a different situation from jferrier in terms of school workload) I worked 420 hours as a TA and another hundred or so as a college marker. I also had paid volunteer positions on two committees and did some tutoring. No black helicopters descended from the sky to take my money. As I mentioned, I asked my school if taking on an additional TAship (for a total of 640 hours over the year) would cause my money to get cancelled and they told me that it's strongly disapproved of, but they don't check or enfore any limits.

Besides, many TA positions are marking jobs, which alternate between being zero hours a week and 30-40 hours during exams. How on earth could SSHRC 'not allow' you to work more than 15 hours in a given week? It's utterly unenforceable.

I can guarantee you from direct experience that while SSHRC wants you not to work, and while not working too much is a great idea, the work guidelines remain just that: guidelines. They cannot find out how many hours you work. It's not like revenue Canada scrutinizes your T4s and figures out your work hours so that they can tattle on you to the tri-council.

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That's what I would do. Jesus would probably live in a hovel and save most of his SSHRC to give to tax collecters and whores.

Haha, that was a good one!

While I agree with most of what you've said, I simply can't afford to devote myself to full-time study alone. I have a heaping amount of debt that needs to be paid and I also need to plan for the likely event that I won't find work immediately after graduation. SSHRC and TA work is great, but it's still not enough.

I was, however, mistaken on the conditions surrounding TA employment. I was told to contact the TA coordinator who would then try to hook me up, so to speak. I'm still waiting on her response, but the graduate coordinator sounded confident that I would secure additional hours. I found this really surprising given the heavy competition for TA funding during the application process. Oh well, it looks like I'll finally have a resolution to my problems! Thank you all for the input!

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