3 Ways to Get Your Graduate Assistantship Application Noticed
08/12/2016 by HIGHERGRAD
How do you get an assistantship? There are a lot of factors that go into getting selected for one of the few graduate assistantship jobs universities and colleges have available each year. However, the first way you get your graduate assistantship application tossed to the bottom of the pile is by putting in little effort making your application stand out.
Far too many undergrad students apply to every assistantship for graduate school they can find. It can be enticing to send a mostly generic graduate asssistantship application to every position out there that interests you. A better, and much more effective approach, is not to canvas the world with the same graduate assistantship cover letter and application packet but to focus your effort on a few highly desirable graduate assistantship positions. Make each application unique and take time studying the university, program and professors so you can stand out above everyone else.
Ways to Find Graduate Assistantships
First, start by finding graduate assistantship jobs you are qualified to apply for. This can be a tough task as there are few places that centrally list all available graduate assistantship positions.
First, consider what your undergraduate degree major was and what type of research you would like to pursue in the same or similar fields. Those that are looking for PhD 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 each of 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.
Meeting Financial Need With a Graduate Assistantship
Graduate assistantship positions generally come with some kind of tuition assistance and also a stipend. The amount of these benefits vary from university to university and by type of assistantship. Any financial assistance, however, is welcomed when you are continuing your education. Similar to applying for a job, do not be afraid to ask about the financial benefits of the graduate assistantship you are applying for. This information may help guide you on which positions are worth more of your time and which ones are not.
Graduate Assistantship Application Tips
There are several graduate assistantship application tips that can help you during the process.
Spend Time Researching the University 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 for your interests and career path.
Also, researching graduate assistantship programs will ensure you have the experience and skills necessary to be a qualified candidate. This tip is not only important to decide what position is right for you, but it also helps you improve your overall application packet. Fine tuning your resume and graduate assistantship cover letter with specifics about the position and details regarding the school will help you stand above others who have not spent time researching adequately.
Know That Each Position is Highly Competitive
Once you have selected the positions that match your skills and interests, start by tailoring each application. Your graduate assistantship application will need to include a resume and cover letter with all of the information you gathered through your research. “How to get an assistantship” is a frequent question many undergraduate students ask as they start to figure out how to navigate graduate school. We recommend showcasing how your skills and experience can provide solutions to the 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 among many other potential candidates.
Talk to Your Future Advisor
Many applicants do not take advantage of communicating 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. Reach out to them and let them know you are interested in the position. Ask meaningful and direct questions about the position. This is a great tip to start building a relationship with your future boss and to gather additional research you can use in your graduate assistantship application.
To conclude, those looking to fill 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. Most professors and departments receive stacks of applications for a single position. Take the time to complete the necessary research and target your resume to each particular position. This is your best chance at landing graduate assistantship.