When it comes to building a strong resume, we are often told to list out our professional experiences, skills, and achievements. But the question arises, what counts as valuable experience? One such opportunity that has been a topic of debate for long is being a Teaching Assistant (TA). On one hand, it provides an opportunity to refine certain soft skills, while on the other hand, there exists a possibility of being perceived as inexperienced because of a part-time work position.
The Pros of Being a Teaching Assistant
If you are actively looking for jobs, you would definitely want to make sure that your skills stand out on a potential employer’s resume. Here are some points that support the idea of listing Teaching Assistantships on your resume:
1. You Acquire Transferable Soft Skills
As a TA, you undertake various responsibilities, including leading tutorials, grading assignments, providing feedback, and mentoring. The experiences related to mentoring students, providing feedback, and ensuring teaching ethics teach you soft skills that are easily transferable to other job roles. Leadership, communication, teamwork, time management, and adaptability are some of the soft skills that are highly sought-after and necessary to excel in almost every job sector. Being a TA provides you with valuable experience that can be an excellent foundation for your future professional roles.
2. You Gain Industry-Related Experience
Being a TA bolsters your resume in two ways, one being the soft skills that you acquire, and another being the industry-related experience you acquire. It can be useful for fields such as healthcare, legal, and other industries where assisting others is a primary part of the job. Healthcare, for example, requires patience, empathy, and the ability to communicate correctly, which are all skills a TA gains through helping out students.
3. You Might Secure Research Experience
If getting research experience is on your list, then a TA position can be an excellent opportunity to work with your professor and collaborate with them to conduct research. As your professor is your mentor, you are more likely to get involved in the research process, such as gathering data, analyzing data, and writing research reports. This experience can be quite valuable when applying for research positions.
The Cons of Being a Teaching Assistant
As there are two sides to every story, being a TA comes with its share of drawbacks as well.
1. Being Perceived as Inexperienced
Adding a TA position to your resume can make you look inexperienced for role you apply to. It’s an excellent position for a student looking for part-time work and obtaining first-hand experience but may not be taken seriously for a full-time role.
2. Low Pay and Time-Intensive
TA positions are usually part-time, low-paid jobs that take up considerable time. The time investment can significantly impact your studies or job search. Moreover, TA roles may lay undue emphasis on grading or attendance-tracking, which may seem trivial on a resume.
How to Make Your TA Experience Count
The key to making your TA experience valuable is by putting emphasis on your transferable skills, such as leadership abilities, communication, and customer service skills. Here is how you can shape your TA experience to make it work on your resume:
1. Use Relevant Keywords
Look for positions and companies that offer an emphasis on similar soft skills that have been bolstered by your experience as a TA. Try using relevant keywords that align your experience with the position you’re applying for, making it appear more relevant.
2. Quantify Your Achievements
Quantify your achievements by outlining the details of how many students you assisted or mentored throughout your tenure as a TA. By detailing your work experience, you give potential employers a clear view of how you may bring value to their company.
3. Highlight Your Role
The role you played as a TA can also be significant in providing direction to your career objective. If you led discussions or facilitated groups or designed curricula, highlight that experience as it relates to the future job you’re seeking.
Being a TA provides excellent industry-relevant experience as well as refines soft skills that transfer quickly to future job roles.
It’s time-intensive and may not be taken seriously for full-time positions, making it difficult to carry forward as part of your resume.
Communicating relevant keywords, quantifying your achievements and highlighting your role can add significant value to your TA experience.
In conclusion, a TA experience can be valuable when communicated effectively on resumes, and transferable skills are emphasized. Use the appropriate keywords, quantifying achievements, and highlighting your role in communicating to potential employers.
Q: Are TA positions only available to students?
A: No, TA positions are not exclusively for students. Still, they are primarily filled by students who have been recommended by professors.
Q: Can being a Teaching Assistant hinder your chances of getting a job?
A: Only if you don’t communicate the skills and expertise gained through teaching assistance effectively.