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Frequently Asked Questions for Graduate Associate (GA) Positions

THE APPLICATION PROCESS

THE GA POSITION

OTHER OPPORTUNITIES

Other Questions? E-mail askraga@lists.upenn.edu.


Who can apply?

Graduate or Professional school students enrolled in a full-time degree-granting program are eligible for GA positions.

A Pennkey (Penn password and identity) is required to access the application. Newly matriculated graduate students will automatically be sent a PennKey Setup Code by their school; the way you receive this code will vary depending on your school. Once you have received this Setup Code, you can register for a Pennkey at the following url: www.upenn.edu/computing/pennkey/. You can read more about Setup Codes at http://www.upenn.edu/computing/pennkey/faq.html​.  There can be a delay between registering a PennKey and being granted access to the GA application.  Submitting an application does not guarantee an interview.

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Can I apply by mail, email or via fax?

No. Only applications submitted through our online system are being considered for appointment.  Applications will open on November 28, 2017 for current staff requesting to return for another year and on January 30, 2018 for new candidates.

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As a Sub-Matriculation Program student, should I apply for a GA or RA position?

Students enrolled in sub-matriculation programs are only eligible to hold the GA (Graduate Associate) position once the student's school has verified that the student has successfully completed all academic work required for their bachelor's degree.  Therefore, students who will not have completed all undergraduate work required for their bachelor's degree by the end of the spring semester of 2018 should apply for the RA (Residential Advisor) position.

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How do I log in to the GA application?

A Pennkey (Penn password and identity) is required to access the application. Newly matriculated graduate students will automatically be sent a PennKey Setup Code by their school; the way you receive this code will vary depending on your school. Once you have received this Setup Code, you can register for a Pennkey at the following url: www.upenn.edu/computing/pennkey/. You can read more about Setup Codes at http://www.upenn.edu/computing/pennkey/faq.html​. There can be a delay between registering a PennKey and being granted access to the GA application.  Submitting an application does not guarantee an interview.

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How many positions are available?

In total, there are 123 GA positions in the system; however, in any given year, the number of openings available for new staff varies depending upon the number of returning staff in each House.

 

GA

RA

W.E.B. Du Bois College House

7

0

Fisher Hassenfeld College House

12

12

Gregory College House

9

3

Harnwell College House

12

12

Harrison College House

12

12

Hill College House 14 3

Kings Court English College House

4

12

New College House

6

4

Riepe College House

9

13

Rodin College House

16

8

Stouffer College House

10

0

Ware College House

12

11

Totals*
(*subject to change)

123

90

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When is the deadline to apply?

There is no application deadline per se; applications are accepted on a rolling basis until all GA positions are filled. Each House begins considering new GA candidate applications once its Residential Advisor (RA) positions have been filled, generally in early to mid-February.

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What should my letter of application consist of?

Your letter should highlight your academic interests, skills, and experience pertinent to the position you are seeking, and should specify your preferences for the House and Residential Program, if applicable. Only one essay is required, covering these topics. (See this site for more details about Residential Programs.)

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Can I get help with my résumé, letter of application, or advice about interviewing?

Absolutely! Career Services is available for appointments and walk-ins and provides information and assistance with resume writing, samples and critique services as well as cover letter guides, samples and checklists.  Contact Career Services through their website at www.vpul.upenn.edu or contact them at 215-898-7531.  It is very important to utilize this resource in a timely manner so that they have the appropriate amount of time to assist you.

Penn Career Services also offers interview advice on their website.  For candidates who may be offered a remote interview via Skype, we encourage you to view this video to make the most of the interview opportunity.

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I want to apply to be a GA, but what if I haven't been accepted into Penn yet?

Only graduate students who are enrolled full-time in one of Penn's graduate degree-granting programs for the 2018-19 academic year are eligible to apply for Graduate Associate positions.

A Pennkey (Penn password and identity) is required to access the application. Newly matriculated graduate students will automatically be sent a PennKey Setup Code by their school; the way you receive this code will vary depending on your school. Once you have received this Setup Code, you can register for a Pennkey at the following url: www.upenn.edu/computing/pennkey/. You can read more about Setup Codes at http://www.upenn.edu/computing/pennkey/faq.html​. There can be a delay between registering a PennKey and being granted access to the GA application.  Submitting an application does not guarantee an interview.

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Who should I ask to write a recommendation for me?

Academic Reference: Obtain a recommendation from your graduate group, program chairperson, professor from area of concentration, or Dean. Incoming students may submit these materials from a previous or current institution; recommendations used for admission to the University of Pennsylvania will not be accepted, however.

Professional Reference: Obtain a professional reference from a faculty member, administrator, past employer, or another person who has supervised your academic, paid, or volunteer work. If you are currently a College Houses and Academic Services appointee, the professional reference must be from your current supervisor.

Both references must address your readiness to assume the Graduate Associate role at the University of Pennsylvania. 

Applicants who are currently working as Graduate Associates but who wish to be considered for positions in other Houses must submit a letter of support from their current College House Dean. 

If the person you have asked to write a letter for you needs guidance concerning the letter of reference, please refer them to this page: www.collegehouses.upenn.edu/join/ga/write.

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How do my references submit their letters of recommendation?

When you complete the online application process, you will be given two codes that are unique to your application (they consist of a series of six capital letters and a URL where they can be used). When you request a letter of recommendation from your references, you give them each one of these codes and the URL. Each reference will use a different code. Once they've written your recommendation, they can go to the URL and enter the code you've given them, and it will allow them to upload their letter about you, which must be submitted in PDF format. The code will automatically link their letter to your application; once they've uploaded their letter you will be able to see that it's been completed when you check the status of your application online.

  • Example:
    Student applicant Keith Moon wants to be a GA;
    Asks Prof. Pete Townshend and Mr. John Entwistle for recommendations;
    Student Moon completes the application and is automatically given TWLILA and TAOAS plus a URL link
    Student Moon gives Prof. Townshend the TWLILA code and the URL link
    Student Moon gives Mr. Entwistle the TAOAS code and the URL link

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How do I make a change to my application if I need to?

Once submitted, the information on your application may not be changed.

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How do I check the status of my application?

You can easily and conveniently check the status of your application online by visiting www.collegehouses.upenn.edu/ga and revisiting the GA application link.  Once you log in with your PennKey, your application summary will appear and you can see if both your recommendation letters have been received. GA applications are reviewed according to a schedule established by the Houses. Reviews may even begin before your references are received. The Houses will contact applicants only if they are interested in offering an interview. Notification will be sent to interviewed candidates within approximately 30 days after the interview.

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What if I have received multiple offers from the Houses to be a GA?

You will have three business days to consider your offer(s) before making a commitment. Once an offer is accepted, you must have the permission of that House Dean should you decide that you would like to change to another House.

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What is the time commitment for being a GA?

Both RAs (undergraduate Resident Advisors) and GAs are required to spend approximately 15-20 hours per week on average in the performance of their duties. It is important to understand that due to the nature of this work there will be weeks when the time commitment will be greater than this average. For instance, during the month of August, staff should expect to be very busy participating in fall Staff Orientation, NSO, and opening activities.

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How often will I need to be on duty?

Both RAs and GAs serve as contacts for House emergencies whenever University offices are closed. Duty schedules vary depending on staff size and individual House policies.

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How long does a GA appointment last?

GA appointments commence on August 11, 2018. GAs are required to stay through the second day after Commencement in May. The term officially ends for non-returning GAs at 12:00 noon on May 22, 2019.

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When is RA/GA training & orientation and is it mandatory?

RA/GA Fall Training & Orientation will be held from August 12 through August 28, 2017 for all new and returning staff. Attendance is required for this, Winter Training on January 8, 2018, and in-service training meetings throughout the year as designated by the House Dean and CHAS. To ensure that GAs have no conflict with their academic programs, once an offer has been made GA candidates are asked to meet with their program advisor or School dean to discuss the schedule for staff orientation and to complete a GA Academic Advisor Approval Form. The GA appointment is not official until this form and the GA contract has been signed and turned in.

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Will I be able to hold another job in addition to being a GA?

The House Dean must approve all on- or off-campus employment in addition to the GA appointment. A GA may not hold full-time employment and serve in the Graduate Associate position. If additional employment impacts your ability to perform the duties of an GA, you may be required to resign from the additional position or from the GA position.

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What impact will being a GA have on my financial aid or support?

College Houses and Academic Services is required to report all positions to Student Financial Services. The value of the GA appointment may be considered as a resource in evaluating financial arrangements for your graduate program. Be advised that appointment can have a significant impact on an individual's financial aid package (i.e. grants and work study allocation, if eligible.) As a result applicants are highly encouraged to consult with Student Financial Services, their school and program regarding any potential impact before applying to and certainly prior to accepting the GA position.

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How can I get housing if I apply to be a GA and am not appointed?

Candidates should apply for desired on- or off-campus housing by the housing deadline dates. See http://cms.business-services.upenn.edu/residential-services/applications-a-assignments/applications-assignments.html​ for details. If you are selected for, and accept, a GA position, the Department of Residential Services will cancel any on-campus housing contract you have already made without a penalty.

NOTE: You are responsible for all arrangements regarding off-campus housing. While the central College Houses office will make every effort to notify you of the status of your application in a timely manner, we are not responsible for any housing expenditures or commitments that candidates have made.

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I am married/partnered. Are there housing options for my partner and me?

All GA rooms are appropriate for a single occupant. Du Bois, Fisher Hassenfeld, Riepe and Ware College Houses will not consider married or partnered GAs for this reason.

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Can I apply mid-year to become a GA in case someone has left his or her position?

Mid-year hiring rarely occurs. When it does, applicants are usually taken from the standing applicant pool.

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I applied last year and was not hired. Can I reapply this year?

Yes, but you must be academically eligible and must submit a new application online, and you will need new letters of recommendation and an updated cover letter and résumé.

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How do I apply to work in Sansom Place? I would like to include Sansom as one of my application preferences, but I don't see it listed among the options.  

Sansom Place is not part of the College House system and is staffed via a different process.  For more information, go to http://cms.business-services.upenn.edu/sansom-place/apply/apply-to-be-an-information-center-specialist.html​.

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Are there summer staff opportunities?

CHAS does not offer any positions during the summer.  Conference and Hospitality Services is responsible for managing the summer use of College Houses.  They generally do have summer positions available for which any student may apply.  The application process begins with an on-line application that is available in late January or early February on the Conference and Hospitality website.    

Several positions exist to work with summer term students and are similar to the RA or GA position.  For more detailed information regarding the positions that work with summer term students please contact Residential Services at bsd-living@pobox.upenn.edu.

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