January 2018

Cross-cultural leadership from Canada to France to China and back: My Mitacs journey as a global citizen

Justine Salam with Globalink Research Interns in Niagara Falls

This post originally appeared on the Mitacs blog.

In Summer 2016, I took a three-month paid position as a mentor for Mitacs ... My mentor experience at Mitacs not only shaped me into a leader, emotional supporter, and global citizen, but it also transformed us as we moved from mentor-mentees into peers.

Collective Competition: The Value of (totally platonic and in no way romantic) Academic Life Partners

Paula, Devon, and Becky at congress 2018

Upon my entry to the PhD program three years ago, graduate students were cautioned during orientation that grad school—well, academia in general—can be isolating and therefore a real challenge to one's mental health. [...] Little did I know when sitting through those early fire-and-brimstone orientation sessions, I was also sitting adjacent to someone that I would come to refer to adoringly as my "academic life partner".

GRADventure profile: Justine Salam

Justine Salam

I am a University of Waterloo PhD candidate in Global Governance at the Balsillie School of International Affairs. My research is on oil governance in Alberta, especially the role played by corporate actors, government, NGOs, and civil society groups in making policy. I am also a racket and water sport enthusiast, so I love swimming, kayaking, scuba-diving, and badminton.

Failing to plan? Planning to fail?

"My Plan" writen in a notebook

There are two questions, which out of common courtesy, one should never ask a graduate student: “when will you finish” and “what are your plans after graduation”. The latter is more dreaded (…and trust me, with good reason).

Saying No Can Let You Do So Much

Person Standing on Line

This blog post originally appeared on the University of Waterloo Alumni blog

One of the hardest things to learn is setting boundaries: How often do you say yes to a request, only to walk away, grumbling you should have said no?

How are you planning your professional development activities?

Calendar with some pencils

Have you ever found yourself thinking that you need to start engaging in professional development activities, but feel so overwhelmed because you have no idea where to start? If this is you, I have the perfect resource for you.

Unexpected benefits: My LaTeX workshop experience

Coding on a Laptop

I am an international student from Nigeria, and chose to apply to graduate studies at University of Waterloo because of my quest for innovation. My arrival at Waterloo came with mixed feelings: the joy of starting graduate studies and the sorrow of leaving my friends behind. But, I found a way out.

"Distract" yourself with general audience presentations

Picture of Mountains

When I was invited to be one of two speakers in a recent GRADtalks evening on tipping points in complex systems, I was excited. I thought “great, I just did an academic conference presentation on basically the same topic – tipping point in the energy transition –  I’ll be able to pull this together without distracting from my work or taking too much time.” Well, I was wrong about the time.

Career crossroads: Expanding your career search beyond academia

Blank street crossing sign

“A career path is rarely a path at all. A more interesting life is usually a more crooked, winding path of missteps, luck and vigorous work. It is almost always a clumsy balance between the things you try to make happen and the things that happen to you.”

–Tom Freston​

Advancing research and beyond: Impressions of a summer school experience

women carrying backpack in warm sunny location

Summer schools are available around the world in many disciplines, with different time durations. Many of these offer funding opportunities for grad and undergrad students and provide a unique learning environment. This year, I chose to attend ALTER-Net summer school, a laboratory on what it means to be a scientist – personally and professionally.

Articulating my skills in Project Management

computer beside pen and paper

Last year, a colleague told me that in my time as a graduate student, I had developed project management skills. I looked at this colleague like they had two heads. To me, project management was some foreign and ambiguous concept, something that only supervisors on construction sites do. They laughed and said; “Of course you have project management skills! What do you think you’re doing when you manage your research project for your thesis?”

Getting on board: Building leadership skills in graduate school

Beth with the graduate house sign

A great way to get leadership experience as a grad student is to join a board of directors. In this post, I’ll share my experience as a director with the University of Waterloo’s Graduate Student Association (GSA).

Merging academia and professional experiences: Skills and lessons learned

two business professionals working

I had many reservations upon entering grad school. One thing I feared most was becoming completely disconnected from the professional world outside of academia. ... That’s why I jumped on the opportunity to work as a research assistant on a SSHRC (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council) funded community initiative centered on the effectiveness and transparency of Ontario’s Police Complaints System (PCS).

Saying "Yes!" to the 3MT

Andria presenting at the 3MT

In early 2017, a colleague encouraged me to sign up for the Three Minute Thesis (3MT) at the University of Waterloo. I was told that the 3MT is a competition where graduate students present a memorized script about their research in three minutes or less to a non-specialist audience.

From student to facilitator: My experience with the Student Leadership Program

students talking in a group

I started the Student Leadership Program, a series of twelve workshops led by the Student Success Office, during my undergraduate years with the motivation to improve my leadership skills and add an extra line on my resume. However, before finishing the program, I became a workshop facilitator. 

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