Research and responsibilities.

As I mentioned earlier, I was lucky enough to land a job as a Graduate Assistant… a Graduate Research Assistant at that. I work 20 hours a week (currently spread out over four days) at WVU’s National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium, a facility that serves under WVU’s National Research Center for Coal and Energy.

The NAFTC specializes on facilitating educational programs that focus on alternative-fueled vehicles. Electric vehicles are a major emphasis of the curriculum, but the Consortium also advocates the advancement of fuel cell, hydrogen, natural gas, and biofuel as well. As someone from an arts background, the knowledge I’ve gained during my short time there has been pretty powerful, as I’m gaining some scientific perspective that I may not have if I were working in a different department.

Now that I’ve talked up my place of employment, let me tell you a little bit about what I do. GA’s are asked to work 20 hours a week, and in return are paid a stipend and are given a tuition waiver every semester. I’m lucky enough to have a position that runs through the summer, but as a consequence, I’m required to work during the times that other GA’s have off (like Christmas break, Spring Break, etc.).

My daily duties are pretty straightforward. The NAFTC has an enews page that outlines the most recent and relevant stories in the alternative fuel industry. It is my responsibility to research these stories, write about them, and post them to the site. This means signing up for industry newsletters, press releases, and Google Alerts. I’m responsible for writing at least 10-12 industry stories per month, two of those being international stories. When I first started, one of my responsibilities was keeping up with the NAFTC’s Facebook and Twitter pages, but a new full-time staff member has recently taken over so that the pages could be updated daily (as I’m not at the office every day).

Are you lucky enough to have a GA position? I’m curious to hear about the responsibilities other GA’s have.


4 thoughts on “Research and responsibilities.

  1. I’m curious if you have a favorite part of your job. Do you particularly like the industry stories or do you miss the social media? Do you think these skills will help you in the future, or do you feel it’s just more passing time?

  2. greerhughes says:

    I think my favorite part of the job is actually finding a GOOD story. It can be hard for me at times because I don’t come from a scientific or reporting background. Because the NAFTC is in the realm of energy, some of the articles I find can be very jargon-heavy. When I find one that I understand and find interesting, turning it into a story is pretty rewarding. I’m learning a lot about reporting and AP style too, which I know will pay off in the long run. It’s good because a history of all the stories I’ve written for them are archived right on their website.

    I almost always enjoy managing social media content, but it’s a big responsibility. You’re basically moderating information that has the potential to be seen by a lot of people. The same goes for my news stories, but the director of communications always edits them before they go live. With social media, things are published immediately at the push of the button.

  3. Ali Young says:

    I always feel like I have a load on my shoulders, but after reading this post I realize how lucky I am that I only have a few classes to worry about. Most students have time to balance work and school, but 20 hours on top of everything else seems like a lot. How do you stay relaxed? And how did you become so educated about the curriculum to write so many stories? I assume you did a lot of research beforehand! The content seems like it would be very difficult to write about.

  4. Anan Wan says:

    That‘s a lot of work! Writing so many stories will drive me crazy, and finding what to do write is more difficult. But I think this would help you a lot in the future. The social media (Facebook and Twitter) work sounds you were a social media coordinator like Ali. So do you like this kind of job?

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