It's a well known fact that having a TA experience included in your CV is a great plus, irrespective of the path you choose after university. However, only a handful of undergraduate students in our country, and perhaps an even smaller number of graduate students, opt for this position, as most of them are unaware of how to become one or have misconceptions regarding what a TA is hired to do. Here is a little background on what being a TA is all about.
What does a TA do?
A Teacher's Assistant (TA) is usually an undergraduate or graduate student who's working under a faculty member for extra income and a good reference letter. In most cases, a TA basically helps their lecturer/professor to get copies graded in time. Other responsibilities allotted to the TA may vary from university to university or teacher to teacher, based on their requirements/teaching policies/university code of conduct. These may include important tasks such as helping the teacher review their course outlines and class materials before starting the semester, guiding students during lab activities, proctoring exams and quizzes, inputting grades into the system, or even taking a few classes when the teacher isn't available. They may also help with simpler tasks such as making slides out of course material or getting printouts and photocopies made for class.
Why do people want to be TAs?
It's a lot simpler to be able to allot time for work between classes instead of having to make separate slots in your schedule. Working at your university instead of having off-campus jobs saves you time and energy. Plus, if the teacher you work under teaches courses from your major, you will basically be paid for reviewing your knowledge in your own field. The benefits of gaining more knowledge in your field, even from lower-level course material, cannot be underestimated. Moreover, getting well-acquainted with your lecturer for work will also help you make more connections with experienced personnel from your field.
What are the requirements?
At an undergrad level, most universities/lecturers require you to have completed at least 75-80 credits under that discipline, with a CGPA above 2.50-3.00. As a current student, you must submit a copy of your university transcript, along with recommendations from previous lecturers or people aware of your educational background and qualifications. You may even be asked to sit for a qualifying exam or asked to give an interview. There are usually forms given out every year/semester, which need to be filled out and submitted within a given period.
Susmita is a literature major who lives on tea and sweet toast. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.