The Alan J. Perlis SCS Student Teaching Award
School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburgh PA 15213-3891
(412)268-8525 . (412)268-5576 (fax)


Nivedita Chopra
2015 Undergraduate Student Teaching Award

Five things no one told you about being a TA

Let me tell you the five things that no one told you about being a TA:

You will spend all your time helping students – There's a seemingly never-ending line of students wanting help – be it in office hours or on Piazza. A sane person would help a few of them and then get on with life. However, you spend much of the time that you should have been studying in helping students who are panicking about their assignment, often to the irritation of your study partners and friends.

You will take pride in your students' accomplishments – When your student gets one of the highest scores on an exam, does something amazing for a bonus task, or drastically improves upon their overall performance, you can't help but feel proud. You feel happy to have contributed a tiny bit to their success.

You will overcome your fear of public speaking – Standing in front of a class of 30 students each week is very intimidating at first, but slowly you get used to it. You come up with ways to cope with your stage fright, and before you know it, you're a very confident public speaker.

Your fellow TAs will become your best friends – Spending so much time together in office hours and grading brings you much closer to the people who are sharing this experience with you. You begin to realize that you share the same passion and often the same interests. Before you know it, you've made some awesome friends who can totally relate to your experiences.

Your professors will become your mentors – TAing for a professor is a great way to get to know them better. They'll relate to their experiences and share their wisdom. Often you will ignore it, and later realize that they were right all along.

Being a teaching assistant has been one of the defining experiences of my undergraduate career, and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. I'd like to thank the professors who have believed in me, supported me, and given me so much guidance over the years, and my fellow TAs for always having my back and for making this a great experience.

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