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Background: In the final year of my masters. Not seeking to apply for a PhD program in the future.

Situation: I have a potential opportunity to TA a grad level course. Highly confused about taking it up. The opportunity is good however along with the 2 courses that I have to take for graduation, I also wanted to take up another extra course to gain new skills for use in the industry.

Ideally I would want to do both - the extra course and also the TA work. However since I have not taken up a TA opportunity before, I fear balancing 3 courses + the TA work would be a potential overload. However once I leave grad school, I won't be able to have a TA opportunity nor will I be able to take the extra course that is offered here. The TA work would be around 15-20 hours per week. I also have to pay for the extra course I take up.

Any ideas/suggestions would really help. Answers from an industry standpoint would really help.

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  • What kind of TA job is it? Mostly grading? How much teaching will it be involved?
    – Nobody
    Nov 23 '15 at 5:29
  • @scaaahu Creating new assignments, grading them, holding office hours for students (clarifying doubts class material and assignments) and grading exams.
    – Karan
    Nov 26 '15 at 1:54
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I can't really comment on the financial side, that all depends on your own financial situation. The main advantage of TAing, besides the money, is that if you want to teach in the future in any capacity then getting some experience teaching is vital. If you don't plan to teach in the future, then the work experience is probably negligible. There are probably some "soft" benefits that could be useful in industry, such as learning to effectively condense and explain material in your field, but I doubt they would be very helpful in terms of getting hired.

In terms of balancing work, that also mostly depends on the courses and your own productivity. I will say that at many PhD programs, 3 courses + a 15-20 hour TAship is a pretty standard workload for the first couple years (assuming you don't do significant research your first year or so), so it's probably doable.

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The biggest, and really only, con of being a TA is the time. This can have knock on effects on the number of credits you can register for and your research and learning.

There are a number of pros. They are usually paid and a great way to learn the material in the class. The level of understanding you need to teach is much higher than what you need to pass a class. This can both be usueful and look good on a CV. It is an easy way to gain teaching experience, although this is not particularly useful for industry jobs. It also often provides another person who can write a reference letter.

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  • Good point about the reference letter. I can write much stronger letters for my TAs than I ever could for someone who was just a student in my class.
    – ff524
    Nov 22 '15 at 3:18
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Being a teaching assistant takes up a lot of time, and can be excruciatingly tedious and repetitive (but you often can't do the work on autopilot).

If you don't need the tuition remission or the stipend, skip it.

Most TAships don't involve being an instructor of a course. So just having TA experience, in general terms, on your CV doesn't necessarily help you when you're in the job search.

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