I am required to complete 300 practicum hours to fulfill my requirements in a Masters program. I decided to fulfill these hours by creating a practicum experience with my GRA (graduate research assistant) supervisor. This experience was designed for me to develop skills in tasks that I would not normally do in my GRA. We decided to work on a few different projects- I was to submit an letter of intent after taking a course on grant writing, help develop a couple of publications in the works, and work on a presentation for our group.

I took the grant writing course, developed some general ideas with my supervisor on paths that we might pursue, and we submitted the grant. I was told that I would take the lead on this grant as part of my experience. And I have for the most part. We did a lot of editing together, we met with the grant coordinator of our school, and I did most of the research for the grant. It was a continuation of an earlier project, but the application was novel and it was something that I created and took ownership over. I was excited as this was my first grant and I worked very hard on it. I wanted this to happen.

Months go by and we are working on the other parts of the practicum, mostly working on some publication work. But it felt like I was being excluded from the main discussion and I was not receiving much support. It is an area that is not in my background, but I wanted to get experience in this area. It felt like I was wasting hours sitting there with no support, so I did not count my hours towards the practicum. I would try to get her to help, but it always seemed like I was bothering her or she didn't have time or was frustrated. When I told her that I have not counted my hours recently, that I was just doing GRA hours, she seemed frustrated and told me that I need to get this over with. I didn't think I was getting enough out of the experience. At this point I started regretting doing my practicum experience here because I would have had a chance to develop real skills elsewhere. Then, I thought that I probably should have been given more tasks in my GRA hours. I was horribly underworked to begin with, and my practicum was an attempt to gain more meaningful experiences out of this group.

Recently, we get the word back that the letter of intent was accepted and there was a very good chance that we would get the grant. I reply back to the grant coordinator like I had done before, since I was taking the lead on this grant, and instead, my supervisor gets in and starts coordinating things. I keep trying to set up meetings and figure out the next step, but she took over the project. No discussion, no email at all. Now there is a lot of work going on with this grant and I feel excluded. She has not assigned me a task to work on for this and I have not heard anything. I feel like I am left in the dark. I know she has a lot more experience and skill with these things, but this feels like it would be a big opportunity for me. To be honest, I would like some recognition from department. I feel like I helped the department score funds with a practicum and grant idea that was mine. I feel pushed away on both the grants and the publications.

Can you think of a way to approach this? I really do like her and I don't want to cause any issues. I just think she is a poor leader and supervisor. I viewed it as a team effort to begin with and I was hoping to continue this way, but it does not feel like it is going this direction.

  • 1
    So what did she say when you asked her about this directly? (You did ask her about this directly, didn't you?)
    – JeffE
    Aug 22, 2013 at 1:16

1 Answer 1


You seem to be having two issues. The first is you are not happy with your GRA experience and the second is you are confused about the grant. It is important to separate these issues when talking to the supervisor and only bring one issue up at a time. Sicne you questions focuses on the grant, so does my answer.

While it is too late now, before starting to work on a grant or any research project it is important to define the roles of each team member. You then need to review these roles frequently as the project progresses.

There are two possibilities for the grant. The first case is that the grant includes funding for you (or someone like you). In this case you need to have a friendly chat to discuss what your role will be if the grant gets funded. This should be fairly painless since you (or someone like you) is listed on the grant. The second case is that the grant doesn't include funding for you (or someone like you). If this is the case, then it is pretty clear that you are not really included on the grant. If the grant could have included funding for you, but you were not included, you should have raised the issue as soon as you realized. This is potentially problematic and it is worth discussing with the supervisor why you were not included. If the grant could not have included funding for you, then it is not clear what the issue is.

Whatever happens, you should have a nice civil conversation with the supervisor.

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