Another Way to Pay for School—Be a Student Assistant

iStudent Blog

A major part of attending graduate school, besides all the class assignments, is figuring out how to pay for it all. Working on an advanced degree is an investment worth making, whether to expand your options in your current job or to change careers entirely. While there is government student aid, private loans, maybe a savings accounts to tap into, and a myriad of scholarships available at SJSU SLIS, financing a master’s degree is still a concern for many who are planning to go back to school.

One financial solution, as well as an opportunity to build up the resume nicely, is working as a student assistant. Pay rates are reasonable, the workload is manageable when added to an already busy student’s schedule, and the opportunity to work with our school’s professors and staff is an invaluable asset as you begin to build a career in the information profession. And most student assistant positions are virtual—meaning you can work online, from wherever you live without having to make a physical appearance. Plus, it’s a lot of fun—just ask me. This job is great!

Chattering away on a blog isn’t the only way to work as a student assistant. Each semester, roughly 30 SLIS students are employed as assistants, serving in areas such as on the SLIS website team, and providing research and teaching support for faculty. Not all student assistantships are paid positions, but opportunities such as peer mentorship for LIBR 203 offer credit instead.

Over on the Community Profile page, you’ll find a long list of current and previous students who worked as assistants. Some were paid positions and others worked for class credit. Either way, it’s an excellent opportunity to gain skills you can use in the future and build up your resume.

Student assistant and SLIS graduate Julie Whitehead for instance, used her passion for young adult services to work on a project with Dr. Anthony Bernier to assess, review and plan library spaces for young adults. As part of this grant-funded research project, she used Photoshop, 3-D modeling tools and other online resources, in the SJSU information school’s Second Life environment, to explore designs for library spaces. This opportunity to work in Second Life was an exciting way to for her to learn more about research in young adult librarianship.

MARA graduate Kevin Dompier worked as a student assistant during the fall 2013 semester with Dr. Patricia Franks. The work he did focused on planning the 2014 Virtual Center for Archives and Records Administration (VCARA) conference. Working as a student assistant offers opportunities for professional networking—an opportunity that as Dompier points out, is essential. “If you have the opportunity to go out and participate in something,” he says, “do it.”

Lissette Gonzalez, a current student, served as a “participatory learning guide” for our school’s first massive open online course (MOOC) while she worked as a student assistant to Dr. Michael Stephens. Gonzalez hopes to use her experiences as both a student assistant and MOOC learning guide, combined with her MLIS degree, to work in digital archives design and management in an academic library setting.

As you can see from these profiles, there is really no limit to the number of wonderful and unusual opportunities to be had as a student assistant. From designing virtual spaces to helping facilitate online classes, and even traditional roles of participating in research projects with SJSU information school professors, the options of participating in the school’s learning community are nearly endless. Not only that, but they even pay you to expand your horizons. I never thought I’d be able to fund my education by blogging for the very school I’m attending. The learning community at SJSU’s information school fosters a wide range of skills and experiences, so no matter what your background, you will likely find something that fits both your needs and the needs of the school if you are interested in working as a student assistant.

What area of assistantship seem interesting to you? What’s your dream job with SJSU’s information school?


Check out these related posts for more information:

A Record Year for Scholarship at the SJSU Information School by Kari Van Baalen

How to Receive Financial Support Through Student Assistantships, Financial Aid and Scholarships by Julia Chambers

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles


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