What It’s Like To Be An Instructional Assistant In Newhouse

What It’s Like To Be An Instructional Assistant In Newhouse

When I applied for graduate school I had no idea how I was going to pay for it. My parents couldn’t really help out and I definitely couldn’t contribute any money. I had a scholarship but still needed money to cover expenses such as driving, groceries, and rent. Luckily, on the Newhouse application for graduate school you can choose whether you want to be eligible to receive a scholarship or be an Instructional Assistant (IA). If you’ve ever heard of a Teacher’s Assistant (TA) that’s basically what it is; you get to assist with teaching a class or simply be an aid for a professor. I clicked yes for both and hoped for the best either way.

A week or so later, I got approved to be an IA and get paid $17.63 per hour for up to 15 hours a week. The moral of the story is to just go for it because you never know what good can happen for you.

Now, you may think that working only 15 hours a week and being in school for only 12 credits is fine, but think again. This is a strenuous, one-year program. On paper it says 12 credits, but 12 credits in the Broadcast and Digital Journalism program really means about 20 hours outside of the classroom alone and then 15+ from being an IA. I knew what I signed up for prior to applying for this program and knew I would be busy basically all week.

Being an IA has definitely allowed me to feel whole again by seeing undergraduates doing the same thing that I do daily. They are in the same program as me and usually say they love that they have graduate students being part of their class. They sometimes feel closer to me than the professor, in the sense that there is someone who has been through undergrad and is closer in age to help them through whatever they need. It’s more than just helping teach a class and being an assistant, it’s about making that relationship and bond with the student.

When I get phone calls and texts, or even students in class coming up to asking me about advice, it’s the best thing. They truly make my day and I’m sure it makes theirs too. Students ask to see my work to compare (though mine is not always at 100% either, they care enough to get feedback at all times), ask me for better ways to fix their technicalities, and also just ask me “AmĀ  I going to get through this?” Every time, my answer is yes. Why? Because in this year’s graduate BDJ program, some students have not one lick of journalism experience and they got whipped into shape in less than 4 months and are now great multimedia storytellers. Plus, to make them feel even better, there are students who have non-journalism backgrounds and in a year, came out with a top 40-50 DMA job choice. If undergraduates have 4 years to become great like that and we have only one, I always tell them they are set up for greatness.

The experience is like none other and I also learn things about myself and my craft that even I didn’t know before. If you’re thinking about applying, please do. If you do not get it right away, they’re always looking for more IAs throughout the whole year, so no worries.

Alexis Scott
Alexis Scott is a graduate student at S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and studying Broadcast Digital Journalism. She hopes that when done at Syracuse University, she will be a reporter and multimedia journalist for a media/TV company. You can follow her on Twitter @ livewlex to have updates and follow her journey through graduate school.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please wait...

Become an Insider!

Want to be notified when a post is published? Enter your email address and name below to be the first to know.