Department of Evolution & Ecology
Teaching Assistantships

Frequently Asked Questions

02/01/2011

 

Q1: As part of my admissions packet, I have to complete a TA application. Why do I have to do this, and how do I fill out the form?

Q2: Can you explain fee remission and what's not covered?

Q3: I've applied for a TA/Reader position in EVE, when will I know if I've been hired?

Q4: It's April, and I still haven't received an offer letter. Will I get one?


Q5: I accepted an offer to TA/Read, what happens next?

Q6: How do I coordinate my academic schedule with my TA/Reader responsibilities?

Q7: I've accepted a TA position.  How and when will I get paid?

Q8: I've accepted a Reader position. How and when will I get paid?

Q9: I tried enrolling in direct deposit online and it didn't work. How do I enroll?

Q10: Why wasn't I hired?

Q11: Where else can I look for employment opportunities?

Q12: I've applied to TA/Read during Summer Session. When will I receive an offer?

Q13: I'm a graduate student through the UC Extension, am I eligible to TA/Read?

Q14: How do I complete a petition for an exception to policy (PEP)?

Q15: I have advanced to candidacy. Is there a difference in stipend between pre-candidacy and those who have advanced?


Helpful Links

Helpful Hints of How to Improve Your Application and Curriculum Vitae (CV)

 

The purpose of this page is to address some of the frequently asked questions that come up when applying for a teaching assistantship (TA) or readership (Reader). The Office of Graduate Studies has additional information explaining in more detail what a TA and Reader are along with the various regulations. The Teaching Resource Center also provides TA's and Readers with information of how to be the best TA or Reader you can be. The Q and A below will help answer questions specific to the practices of Evolution and Ecology (EVE) and a few more general questions.

Q1: As part of my admissions packet, I have to complete a TA application. Why do I have to do this, and how do I fill out the form?

The University has several types of student employment opportunities that assist in the payment of in-state fees and provide salary (income). Many graduate programs either require you to TA or strongly encourage you to TA as part of the degree program or as a means of financial support while here. The TA application you receive may be a combined application with a listing of multiple departments and their courses or an application for one specific program. Therefore, you will need to read through the application and learn from it the requirements for the departments to which you are applying. Complete the application as requested and include all the detail and/or supplemental documentation required. (Refer to the "Helpful Hints" below for ways to improve your application.) Back to top.

Q2: Can you explain fee remission and what's not covered?

An Academic Student Employee (ASE) who is a registered graduate student who holds an ASE appointment or other eligible academic appointment totaling 25% or more of full-time is eligible to participate in the University’s Partial fee Remission Program for educational and registration fees. An ASE is eligible to receive only one Graduate Student Partial Fee Remission per term.  For those ASEs eligible for a Partial Fee Remission, the University will provide a Partial Fee Remission of 100% of the annual educational and registration fees.  Specific eligibility requirements and percentages of each remission are contained in the collective bargaining agreement. Note: Not covered at this time are local campus fees equal to $259.12. (This amount is subject to change pending the state budget.) Therefore, you will be responsible for paying these local campus fees yourself unless your program is covering them. That will be between you and your program. Back to top.

Q3: I've applied for a TA/Reader position in EVE, when will I know if I've been hired?

The length of time it takes the TA Selection Committee to review and rank applications will determine when offers can go out. Our goal is to begin sending offers for all academic quarters (Fall, Winter, and Spring) during the month of April. Note: Offers are sent via e-mail with PDF attachments. The last paragraph of each offer letter designates the last date in which to respond to the offer before it is withdrawn. If you fail to respond by the due date, the offer will automatically be withdrawn. Offers are for one quarter at a time. Depending on your qualifications and the number of applicants for specific courses, you may be offered from one to three appointments. If you are not part of our first round offering, you may be considered for the second and subsequent rounds depending on the number of students who decline our offer to TA or Read. Back to top.

Q4: It's May, and I still haven't received an offer letter. Will I get one?

Possibly. EVE will contact students according to committee and faculty instruction. Depending on student acceptance and declination from this first round, students are then contacted by rank and according to the courses the applicant is approved for. Therefore, it may take several weeks before the coordinator knows if a position will be filled or declined and how far down the list one must go before all jobs are filled. Back to top.

Q5: I accepted an offer to TA/Read, what happens next?

Once you accept an offer, the coordinator will provide you with the various required hiring documents and will provide work assignment information. The timing of the documents depends on when you are scheduled to TA/Read. Note: Regardless of when you accepted the offer of employment, you must maintain your academic eligibility to be hired when that time comes. Disclose any conditions that will affect your employment as soon as possible. Many issues can be resolved before a position would need to be withdrawn for failure to comply with the Graduate Student Eligibility Checklist or other campus regulations. Back to top.

Q6: How do I coordinate my academic schedule with my TA/Reader responsibilities?

Good question. Unless yours is a last-minute appointment, you will know by Spring or Summer the course you will TA or Read in the upcoming academic year. Compare your assignment as early as possible with the Course Schedule and Registration Guide (SCRG) to determine when your assigned course meets in comparison to your course schedule. Discuss any conflicts with your TA/Reader supervisor or coordinator (refer to your assignment letter). You will find that many of our TA and Reader assignments allow for some flexibility to help you enroll in your academic courses and fulfill your TA/Reader duties. Note: An offer of a teaching assistantship or reader position represents a commitment to you on the part of our section and faculty. We urge you to reciprocate by honoring the commitment you are making to us when you agree to take this position. If you feel that you are unable to fulfill this commitment, please advise the coordinator as soon as possible so suitable arrangements can be made. Back to top.

Q7: I've accepted a TA position.  How and when will I get paid?

The TA and Reader positions require you to be hired through the Personnel Payroll System (PPS). This system is different than the Student Accounting System. TA's are paid the first of each month. Fall pay is Nov-01, Dec-01, Jan-01; Winter pay is Feb-01, Mar-01, April-01; and Spring pay is May-01, June-01, and Jul-01. No timesheet is required for our TA appointments. Please advise the coordinator if you wish to register for direct deposit. Checks will automatically be sent to your home department unless you request direct deposit. Back to top.

Q8: I've accepted a Reader position. How and when will I get paid?

The Reader position is based on hours recorded. Therefore, you will be required to turn in a timesheet to the EVE payroll department no later than the 18th of each month. Details of how to complete the timesheet will be provided when you sign/turn in your hire paperwork. Failure to complete a timesheet on time means you will not receive a paycheck on time. Fall pay is Nov-01, Dec-01, Jan-01; Winter pay is Feb-01, Mar-01, April-01; and Spring pay is May-01, June-01, and Jul-01. Please advise the coordinator if you wish to register for direct deposit. Checks will automatically be sent to your home department unless you request direct deposit. Back to top.

Q9: I tried enrolling in direct deposit online and it didn't work. How do I enroll?

Direct Deposit for payroll is not the same as what you may have done for stipends through Student Accounting. In order to enroll in "payroll" direct deposit for the PPS payroll system, your appointment will need to be in the system first. If you know your appointment is in the system, please contact the coordinator. You may need to fill out the paper form requesting direct deposit. Back to top.

Q10: Why wasn't I hired?

We have a lot of applications and limited positions each quarter; therefore, not everyone will receive a job offer during the academic quarter requested. Submitting an application to us is not a guarantee of employment. Offers are made according to committee recommended ranking and instructor input. That said, sometimes the campus may approve additional sections of a course weeks before instruction begins, therefore, you may be contacted at the last minute. If you decline the position, the next person on the list will be called and so forth. Last, you may be contacted last minute should a student withdraw from a position. If you fail to respond to an offer letter within the time specified, the offer will automatically be withdrawn without further notice, and the next person on the list will be contacted. Back to top.

Q11: Where else can I look for employment opportunities?

Finding employment opportunities, especially when you need academic support, will require effort on your part. There are websites you can view and departments you can visit. When you were an undergrad, were you good and English, Math or other general education courses? Though you may have your sights set on TAing the sciences, remember that the general courses you were good at as an undergrad may be taught here and in need of graduate level TAs. Last but not least, word-of-mouth networks you develop can increase your chances for employment. If you are not familiar with "networking", this is a common business term to describe your communication network of friends, staff, and faculty. Tell your network that you are looking for employment and that you would appreciate them telling you of any openings they hear about. Back to top.

Q12: I've applied to TA/Read during Summer Session. When will I receive an offer?

Unlike the academic year (October - June), summer TA/Reader opportunities are dictated by the Summer Sessions Program. The number of students enrolled in summer courses determines the number of TA's or Readers needed for a particular course. Therefore, EVE is not contacted until mid-June with estimated enrollments to determine the number of TA's and Readers to recommend. Required: We only recommend students who have TA'd the course before during an academic quarter. Summer courses are condensed into fewer weeks; therefore, our TA/Readers must already know the course. Note: Offers of employment for summer session will come directly from the Summer Sessions Program. The role of EVE is to recommend students who are qualified to TA/Read the course. A recommendation to the Summer Sessions Program is not a guarantee of employment. Back to top.

Q13: I'm a graduate student through the UC Extension, am I eligible to TA/Read?

Maybe. You will need to check with UC Extension administration to confirm if your degree program is approved for students to TA/Read. If yours is an approved program, complete a TA application and submit to the department(s) of interest. Advise the department up-front that your extension program is approved for TA positions. If you are offered a position, you will need to complete a Petition for the Exception of Policy and have it approved by Graduate Studies in order to be hired. If approved, the hiring department will be able to enter your appointment into the payroll system as it would for a non-extension graduate student. Note: UC Extension fees will not be covered. This will be a salary only position. Back to top.

Q14: How do I complete a petition for an exception to policy (PEP)?

If you have an academic condition that requires a PEP, you can print out a Petition for the Exception to Policy (PEP) from the Graduate Studies website. The form will ask specific information relative to your academic standing and employment for the quarter requested. Additionally, your academic advisor will need to sign the form as will the Chair of the hiring department. Once the form is complete and signed, the form is forwarded to Graduate Studies. Graduate Studies will advise the hiring department within 3 to 5 days if the petition for exception is approved or declined. Please note that no department may hire a student unless all eligibility requirements are met in advance of the job start date. Also, your academic advisor is not the same as your major professor. Consult your graduate coordinator if you need a list of current academic advisors for your program. Back to top.

Q15: I have advanced to candidacy. Is there a difference in stipend between pre-candidacy and those who have advanced?

No. The rate of pay for both TA and Reader positions is determined by a collective bargaining agreement between the University of California (UC) and the Association of Graduate Student Employees/United Automobile Workers (AGSE/UAW) Local 2865.  Rates increase according to this contract. Please refer to the Graduate Studies "TA/GSR/Postdoctoral Salary Scale" PDF for the most current rates. Back to top.

Helpful Links:
Graduate Studies "Who's Hiring" website: http://www.gradstudies.ucdavis.edu/listappt/ (Note: This is not always up to date. You may need to contact individual departments to learn of the most current positions.)
UC Davis Student Employment Website: http://jobs.ucdavis.edu
UC Davis Financial Aid Office: http://financialaid.ucdavis.edu/ (You may not want a loan, but if it's your only option, they are here to help!)
UC Davis Intern and Career Center: http://icc.ucdavis.edu/
Sodexho Catering Services Employment Website: http://www.sodexho.ucdavis.edu/employment.html (Sodexho employment does not cover in-state fees; however, it does provide income and other work-related perks.)
Form: Petition for Exception to Policy for Graduate Student Appointment (PEP): http://gradstudies.ucdavis.edu/forms/pep.pdf
Form: Graduate Student Eligibility Checklist: http://gradstudies.ucdavis.edu/forms/elig.pdf
Pay Scale (most current): http://gradstudies.ucdavis.edu/facstaff/Salary%200809.pdf (NEW Effective 10/01/2008)
TRC: The Teaching Resources Center Home Pager: http://trc.ucdavis.edu/TRC/
TRC: The Beginning TA's Guide to Instruction at UC Davis: http://trc.ucdavis.edu/TRC/ta/TA_Guide06.pdf
TRC: Resources for Teaching Assistants: http://trc.ucdavis.edu/TRC/ta/resources.html

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Helpful Hints of How to Improve Your Application and Curriculum Vitae (CV):

First and foremost, there are no sure-fire ways to please every person who will contribute to the decision making process. All you can do is put your best foot forward. The simplest things can make a difference such as neat handwriting, spelling, phrasing, and just following the directions as outlined on the application. You would be amazed at the number of applicants that submit poorly constructed applications and CV's.

A common mistake when answering the question, "What makes you qualified to TA/Read this course?" is to answer, "Course taken as an undergrad." Think about it...you and most every student applying for the TA/Reader has probably taken the same course as an undergrad too. So how do you separate yourself from the rest? Briefly describe what you did particularly well in the course or what stood out in your memory. Briefly describe the course content and how it relates to the course you want to TA/Read. Remember, not all institutions present the same information in an undergraduate course. This is your chance to help our committee understand how your undergraduate experience relates to the content of the course at UC Davis. Did you do field or lab work in the subject while you were an undergrad? If so, link your hands-on experiences to the course you are asking to TA/Read. Have you actually TA'd a similar course? Provide a letter of recommendation from the instructor (if available), or other information that helps the committee learn a bit more about your experience and qualifications.

The CV and/or resume is your chance to link past experience with the present. In the world of academia, most professionals use the CV to convey education, research, awards, publications, and the like. To create your own CV, you would be wise to visit the websites of faculty within your program or field of interest. Many faculty have their CV on PDF. Do not expect to have the same experiences or background as a seasoned faculty or new Ph.D. This is merely an exercise in CV content. By reviewing the CV's of faculty in your field, you can begin to construct a CV that is appropriate for your level of experience. The end result is a CV that ties well to the application information - an augmentation of sorts. Hint: UC Davis has several seminars throughout the year on how to write a CV as part of the Professional Development Series.

Computer/Web/SmartSite experience: UC Davis is progressively becoming more web interactive.  Many instructors have course websites that need regular updating.  Whether a TA or Reader, please let us know your experience with web design, site updating, and experience using SmartSite.  Should an instructor make a specific request, in addition to course subject knowledge, your information will be forwarded for consideration. Back to top.

Disclaimer:

Not all departments advertise the availability of Teaching Assistantship or Readership. Many departments on campus hire from within their own majors first then to other programs if needed. Review department and program websites to determine deadlines and requirements. As mentioned above, you will want to contact specific departments you are interested in TAing for to verify if they are hiring and what their application procedures may be. Persistence is the key to employment.

 

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