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New School, New Job, New Life: Supporting the Transition of Student Affairs Graduate Assistants
Journal of College Orientation and Transition
  • Karen J. Haley, Portland State University
  • Brandi Hephner, Northern Illinois University
  • Peggy Koutas, Northern Illinois University
Document Type
Publication Date
  • Graduate teaching assistants -- Attitudes,
  • Graduate teaching assistants -- Services for,
  • Career development
Student affairs professionals have a responsibility for the professional development of graduate assistants (GAs) in the department as these positions are marketed as first professional positions. While prior literature has addressed the transition of graduate students into graduate school, there is little about the transition process for students with graduate assistantships in student affairs. Student transitions are important as they may set the tone for their first professional experience and ongoing professional development. Four key themes emerged from the voices of the graduate student participants in this study as they described their transition process into a GA position. First, they viewed the GA experience as a professional opportunity. Second, their sense of belonging was dependent on their perceived contribution to the department or division. Third, relationships mattered as they navigated the transition into their GA role. And finally, self agency (individual action) was apparent as they became engaged in their own success.

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Citation Information
Haley, K., Hephner LaBanc, B., & Koutas, P. (2011). New school, new job, new life: Transitions of graduate assistants in student affairs. Journal of College Orientation and Transition, 18(2), 5 - 19.