A handful of MBAs typically become Teaching Assistants – most do it primarily for the compensation, but in my case it was a mechanism to gain valuable experience in my post-grad area of study, accounting. Because of the time commitment, TA’ing is generally a 2nd-year MBA activity, but three of my classmates actually did TA as first years (with very little sleep, no doubt!). There are a variety of departments that hire MBAs as TAs – international business, statistics, accounting, marketing, etc. I have colleagues who TA’d for an MBA course they had previously taken, for a Technology MBA course where they had previously earned a top grade in the comparable MBA course, and for a variety of undergraduate courses. To gain a TA position, depending on the class, you must either contact the professor or the department you are interested in TA’ing for. Then, they usually collect resumes and hold interviews to make final selections.
After signing on to intern for an accounting firm, a friend who had TA’d in the undergraduate accounting department his entire first year, asked if I’d be interested in TA’ing as a 2nd year. There were several other activities and leadership positions within the MBA program that I was planning to apply for, and so TA’ing meant that I would have to forego those opportunities. Time is always a huge issue as an MBA student – you have to choose your obligations wisely! So, after much thought, I decided to do it – one – because I love teaching and may have an interest in lecturing in the future, two – post-grad I would work in accounting, so it would be a great way to brush up and acquire new knowledge, and three – TAs are compensated with a full tuition waiver, medical benefits, and a monthly stipend (which covers most of my rent and necessities like food). The worry of accumulating more debt would be over!
Therefore, I approached my ‘job’ with full energy and commitment. I balanced out my schedule so that each quarter I could take 3 full classes + TA, while still meeting all of the Foster graduation requirements. I think of TA’ing as about a class and a half’s worth of work. TA’ing for Financial undergraduate accounting requires: attending lecture (3 hrs a week), teaching section to two classes of 80 students (4 hrs a week), holding office hours (2 hrs a week), and the remaining hours prepping, grading, and answering all those student emails. In total, it’s about a 20 hr/wk commitment. TA’ing for other classes/departments require different amounts of commitment – in many classes you don’t actually have to teach students, so the teaching section component would be eliminated. Again, it all depends on the department, the class, and the professor.
All in all, I love the experience, and wouldn’t trade it for any other activity that could have been. It does take time & work, but TA’ing was the right decision for me experience-wise and money-wise. Having to get in front of 80 students weekly means you have to develop command of the subject matter, establish a presence where you are respected but also approachable, and learn techniques for proper classroom management to engage the students. I find each of these challenges rewarding, particularly in the instances when students tell me how helpful I was in enabling them to understand the material. I am lucky enough for my post-grad career to perfectly align with an accounting TA position that gives me a glimpse of what it would be like to potentially teach full time as a lecturer, while at the same time paying my bills. Depending on one’s objectives and obligations, becoming a TA isn’t for everyone, but it is a position worth considering.
~By Guest Blogger Catherine Chin, Full-Time Class of 2012