Graduate Assistantship Application Tips
In the hopes of landing that graduate assistantship position it can be enticing to immediately apply for every available position you find and are qualified for. At HigherGrad, we recommend taking a different approach to finding graduate assistantships that are the right fit for you.
Finding Graduate Assistantships
First is to start to find graduate assistantships you are qualified to apply for. This can be a tough task as there are few places that centrally list available graduate assistantship positions. If you are looking for a masters level position, consider what your undergraduate degree major was and what type of research you would like to do around that. Those that are looking for Ph.D or postdoc positions, much of your search will be defined by the work that you have already accomplished in graduate school. A web search is helpful but usually produces few leads. Search specific university's job boards and department sites to find graduate assistantships. Carefully read through the graduate assistant job descriptions to see if you meet the requirements and if the position is something you are willing to invest multiple years in.
Financing and Graduate Assistantships
If you are applying for a graduate assistantship then your costs will be covered for the most part. Also consider the expenses you may occur for going to graduate school like living expenses. Financing graduate school options may need to be considered in conjunction with your assistantship stipend to fully meet you financial needs.
Graduate Assistantship Application Tips
Research the School and Position
Any applicant should always fully research the school and department where the graduate assistantship position is being offered. Try to find as much out as you possibly can about the work that you will be doing. The last thing you want to do is commit to a position that is completely the wrong education and career path choice for you. Also, researching graduate assistantship programs will ensure you have the experience and skills necessary to be a quality candidate. This application is not only important to decide what position is right for you but it also helps you improve your application packet. Fine tuning your resume and objective's letter with specifics on the position and detail regarding the school helps you stand above others who have not spent time researching adequately.
Know that Each Position is Competive
Once you have selected the positions that match your skills and interests, start by tailoring each application, graduate assistantship resume and cover letter with all of the information you gathered through your research. “How to get an assistantship” is a frequent theme that comes up in questions we get at HigherGrad. We recommend showcasing how your skills and experience can provide solutions to challenges of the position. Detailing how you have been successful in past experiences, particularly in the same field or on a similar project, will allow you to stand out when potential candidates are being reviewed for graduate assistantships.
Talk to Your Future Advisor
Many applicants do not take advantage of communication with the person or persons who are looking to hire graduate assistantships. Almost all positions you find will have contact information for the adviser or lead investigator who is soliciting for the graduate assistantship position. Reach out to them and let them know you are interested and ask for more detailed information. This is a great tip to use after your initial research to gather more detailed information and hone in your graduate assistantship application.
To conclude, those looking to fill graduate assistantship positions are only looking for the highest quality candidates. If you are using the same resume and cover letter for every graduate assistantship application you are submitting, you are unlikely to be noticed. Assistantships for graduate school are competitive and most receive many applications for a single position. Take the time to complete the research for the position you are interested in and target your resume to that school, department and position for your best chances at landing one of your chosen graduate assistantships.