June 25, 2012
The day after I worked through the possibilities (or lack thereof) with Dr. Smith at UGA, I got a call from Dr. B. at MSU. You’ll never believe this… he wanted to offer me an assistantship! Yeah, the news surprised me, too.
Our conversation went more or less (but not exactly) like this:
Dr. B. : We’d like to offer you a teaching assistantship, and I’m wondering if that’s something you’d be interested in hearing more about.
Me: Of course!
Dr. B. : Great. It would be a position working with me. I do climatology work for the state of Mississippi, and so I get requests from all over to gather data and give presentations. You would help me to prepare, sort of like my assistant. Are you familiar with Excel and PowerPoint?
Me: Yes, definitely. I use Excel spreadsheets at my current job almost every day. In fact, I’ve been using Excel since I did my first science fair project in 7th grade. I’m very comfortable with both programs.
Dr. B. : Good, good, I was hoping you would say that. Actually, we were all quite impressed with your application. You applied late, so we had already given out all of the assistantships - but just yesterday one girl said that she had accepted an offer elsewhere. We all agreed that we wanted to offer the position to you.
Me: Oh wow! Thank you, I’m flattered. I didn’t realize I applied late. I had been hoping for an assistantship, and this one definitely sounds interesting!
Dr. B. : Well, we did receive your application materials before the deadline. We just tend to offer out all of the TA positions in January or February. That way we can remain competitive with schools across the country that have earlier deadlines. So while you did apply before the general deadline, we don’t usually have any TA openings left at this point.
Me: That makes sense. Well, like I said, I was hoping to work as a TA, so I’m really glad things worked out this way! It sounds more like a Research Assistantship to me, though. Would I be in a classroom at all?
Dr. B. : Typically, no. You would primarily be doing work for me outside of the classroom. We call it a TA position because we want you to receive the TA training and certification. That way, in case another TA is ever out sick or unable to attend class, you can cover.
Me: I understand. Can you give me an example of the types of projects I would be assisting you with on a more regular basis?
Dr. B. : Every week is different. Sometimes it’s slow, and sometimes we have to manage up to ten different requests at once. For instance, if there was a wildfire somewhere in the state, the fire department might contact me about the meteorological conditions leading up to the event. You would help me to go back and look at the records from various weather stations. The next week we might get a request to visit a 4H club or Boy Scout troop.
Me: That sounds like fun!
Dr. B. : Once you get more comfortable with the program, you can even start teaching those lessons yourself. The kids are a lot of fun. Now, I’m sure you also want to hear about funding that comes with this position?
Me: Yes, that would be great.
Dr. B. : I will send you the details in an email… but basically, we will cover all of your out-of-state tuition, plus 70% of the remaining in-state tuition. In addition to that, we also offer a monthly stipend to help pay for the cost of living.
And then I got so excited that I accidentally hung up on him.
Just kidding! But I am going to stop relaying the conversation here, because I think you’ve got the gist of everything important. It sounded like a really fun assistantship that would also look great on my resume – and perhaps best of all, it meant my graduate degree would be almost completely paid for.
They needed my decision in the next week.
And… That’s where things stand with MSU.
Rachael has a B.S. in Geography from the University of Maryland and is currently applying to graduate school for broadcast meteorology.
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