Important Questions to Consider Before Work Assignments
Consider these eight questions before you start your work term:
- Do you have any personal research goals (i.e., comprehensive exam) that may conflict with the objectives of the work assignment? What are they, and how can the work assignment best accommodate these goals? Be sure to bring these anticipated conflicts up with the supervising professor at the start of your work assignment.
- What are your expected duties and responsibilities to fulfill this role? Do you have the skills and expertise to fulfill them? Consider any training or content review you may have to undertake to fulfill the role. Be transparent with the course instructor about what they can do to support your best work in this role.
- What is the timeline for work assignment objectives? Is there a particular structure (i.e., grading structure) that can be provided in advance? (see TA time allocation form).
- How are responsibilities distributed among workers? What mechanisms are in place by the supervisor to ensure all workers are adequately and equitably meeting the demands of the work assignment?
- What is the best way to communicate issues, concerns or questions about the work assignment to the supervising professor? What is the expected turn-around time for a feedback?
- How will the supervising professor communicate changes to course requirements, deadlines or structure? Consider establishing a grace period with your supervisor to allow for adequate adaptation.
- How will you receive feedback on your professional development and performance during this work assignment? These positions offer a great opportunity for potential references for future scholarships or job applications. Consider asking your supervisor for a mid- or end-of-term performance review.
- Does this work assignment advance your own research or professional interests? If so, consider discussing ways to contribute more substantially to the role, such as facilitating relevant learning activities during tutorials, or identifying relevant reading materials for the students. This should always be coordinated in consultation with the course instructor.