GRADventure Specialist Profile: Sebastian Rios

Sebastian RiosWho are you and what do you do?

My name is Sebastian Rios and I am starting the 3rd year of my PhD in the School of Public Health and Health Systems (SPHHS). I am part of the interRAI Canada research group, which works with big population health care data from the Canadian Institute of Health Information (CIHI). More specifically, my graduate research work looks at mental health systems, quality of care, scale development, outcome measurement, and program evaluation.

What do you want to do following graduate school?

Following graduate school, I would love to continue working with health data, perhaps as a data analyst for CIHI or Health Canada. I also really love program evaluation, so I can see myself working in this field, or even having my own evaluation firm.  My dream job would be working for an international health agency, like the World Health Organization or United Nations, as a data analyst, researcher, or program evaluator.

What kinds of professional development activities you’ve taken part in? (i.e volunteering, professional skills workshops, student association, GSA)

During my time in graduate studies I had the opportunity of doing program evaluation work for the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) and a local YMCA as part of course practicums. I also became heavily involved with the Canadian Evaluation Society’s student case competition, a nation-wide competition that allows students to work on complex evaluation cases. In addition to that, I became an active member of my department’s Graduate Student Association (GSA), at first as a department representative, and later on as the president. Lastly, I’ve taken advantage of some of the workshops that are offered to us, such as the Time Management workshop by Mitacs, or a Refworks workshop by the library, and I’m definitely planning on taking others in the near future.  

Describe the value of these professional development experiences.

Looking for practicum opportunities and going through the process of applying and interviewing for these positions allowed me to get some valuable professional experience. Additionally, being part of the nation-wide evaluation case competition allowed me to work in high pressure environments, as well as help me develop teamwork skills. Most important, becoming involved with my department’s GSA greatly benefited me in the areas of leadership, project management, and networking. I was also able to make various connections with different student bodies and my faculty, where I was able to advocate for issues that I cared about.   Professional experiences are all around us, I think is just a matter of exploring them and taking advantage of them when they cross our way. A good place to start is by getting involved, be it in a student run group, or a volunteer/employment opportunity on campus.

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