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This paper discusses the process by which graduate teaching assistants (TAs), participating in a longitudinal study, used their graduate TA experience to successfully survive the transition from being a teaching assistant to becoming a faculty member. A theoretical framework is presented that describes how individual characteristics of the TAs worked together with disciplinary, institutional, and departmental forces to shape a set of professional values. These professional values helped to form strategies for success: one set used for securing the first faculty position and the other set used to balance professional roles during the first year as a faculty member. These strategies for success contributed to the socialization process of the TAs in the first year of their faculty positions. The results of this study may help institutions broaden opportunities for graduate student support.