Graduate Associate Responsibilities
All graduate students enrolled in the university, who are employed to assist any member of the staff in their administrative, research or teaching duties, are known as Graduate Associates (GAs). Graduate associates are considered to be members of the staff. They are students studying for a Master's or Doctorate degree and take on the additional graduate associate responsibilities during their studies. Graduate associates are of three main types -
- Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA)
A majority of the graduate associates are graduate teaching assistants. GTAs assist a professor in his/her teaching duties by leading student discussions, grading papers, conducting the laboratory part of the class, etc. GTAs are often the only instructor for a particular course.
- Graduate Research Assistant (GRA)
A research assistant has entirely research related responsibilities. He/she may assist in the laboratory or help the professor in his/her research by performing activities like conducting experiments, researching in the library, doing computer analysis, fieldwork, scientific investigations, writing or editing material, etc. A GRA may also have to undertake teaching activities such as grading papers or teaching the lab part of the class.
- Graduate Administrative Assistant (GAA)
A graduate administrative assistant assists the administrative staff and performs clerical tasks. He/she assists with the registration, departmental exhibitions, any special projects, etc. A GAA may also have to attend seminars, hold conferences, collect and interpret the different types of administrative data, do research, etc.
Key Graduate Associate Responsibilities
- Prepare presentation material for projects.
- Ensure that the various graduate projects work efficiently.
- Collaborate with the different vendors, do research and source materials and designs for marketing campaigns.
- Develop and maintain a network of professional contacts.
- Play the role of advisor, friend and mentor to the undergraduate students.
- Observe all the rules and regulations of the university and be a role model to the other students.
- Make the graduate associate responsibilities their highest non-academic priority.
- Assist student groups like judicial boards, interest groups, residential councils, etc.
- Show their support to the community and help build a cohesive house and section committees.
- Keep the students and residents informed of the activities, programs and information by posting flyers, posters or newsletters.
- Assist the professor in discharging his/her teaching duties and also help him/her in doing research when required
- Participate in all the house meetings
- Attend seminars, hold conferences, grade papers and projects of students and lead student discussions
- Graduate associates should also do library research, teach the laboratory part of a class, assist the university administrative staff in their duties, etc.
- Serve as a link between the students and the faculty.
- Participate in activities such as recruitment of candidates, staff selection and assessment, etc.
- Assist with the orientation of new students.
- Participate in emergency drills and help spread the safety and emergency information.
Essential Skills and Abilities
- Good oral communication skills. Good communication skills are a must for any graduate associate – specially for teaching assistants whose work mainly consists of speaking.
- Being organized. Organizational skills are very important for a graduate associate. A GA has to manage his/her work along with studies and being organized will make this task a lot easier.
- Good writing skills and comprehension skills. Paperwork is unavoidable in any sort of job. A GA will have to give instructions in writing, receive instructions from the faculty, paperwork to complete, papers to grade, etc., all of which need strong writing and comprehension skills.
- Clerical knowledge is another important ability for a graduate associate. Knowledge of how to organize files and records, transcription, stenography, word processing and other administrative procedures is necessary.
- Multi-tasking skills. A graduate associate is still a full-time student and his/her academics should be his/her first priority. A GA should learn to juggle the responsibilities of his/her job as well as his/her academic commitments and do both the jobs well. In order to do this, multi-tasking becomes necessary.
- Time management. Higher studies and working as a graduate associate are both demanding activities. To do both the jobs to the best of one's ability and ensure none is neglected need superior time management skills. You have to make the most of your time and become efficient.
- Knowledge of computer applications. Knowing the basic computer applications such as MS Office, Excel, etc., is important for a graduate associate.
- Ability to think logically, rationally and creatively. This quality is particularly important when you are working as a graduate research assistant.
- Independence. Even though you will be assigned a mentor, you cannot expect him/her to hold your hand at every step. You have to come up with your own method and style of working.
- Good interpersonal skills. As a graduate associate, you will have to interact with a large number of people and all of them will be different. You must know how to relate well with people and be outgoing and sociable.
- Sensitivity. The world has become a smaller place today and your university is a proof of that. There will be a lot of students coming from different countries and different cultures. You have to show sensitivity and respect when dealing with them and not come across as ignorant and judgmental.
- A graduate associate has to be enrolled in the university as a full time student.
- Some universities may require a GA to complete at least 6 units of graded graduate courses during each major term.
- The minimum educational qualification to become a graduate associate is a bachelor's degree, although some courses may require you to have a master's in the subject. Graduate associates are students studying for a master's or doctorate degree.
- An essential requirement to become a GA is a good academic record. Graduate associates are selected on the basis of their scores and record.
- A student should have a minimum GPA of 3.0 if he/she wants to become a graduate associate.
- Graduate associates are usually classified as student workers instead of members of staff and are paid monthly stipends.
- The stipend amount depends on your qualification, academic record, geographical location, etc.
- The average wages paid to GAs can range from $14,000 to $50,000.
The growth prospects in this field are not much since you can be a graduate associate only till you complete your graduation. However, this experience will help you tremendously not only in your professional life, but also in your personal life. Students who were graduate associates report that it was one of the most rewarding experiences of their college life.
Graduate associates have to juggle their graduate associate responsibilities with academic commitments, but are all the more better for it.