GRADventure Specialist profile: Sonya Buffone

Sonya BuffoneWho are you and what do you do?

I am a Ph.D. Candidate in the Faculty of Arts, in Sociology and Legal Studies. My research interests are in methodology, and police studies. My dissertation examines the roles, and activities, of media relations officers in police services in Ontario. I want to understand how police construct crime for the public, how they manage their image, and how they view their relationship with the media.

What do you want to do following graduate school?

I always hate answering this question, I don’t have a specific answer. Initially, I wanted to be a Professor. Presently, I am drawn to career opportunities outside of academia. I am most inspired by the research process. It is rewarding to create a project and see it through to completion. I really enjoyed my experience interviewing media relations officers for my dissertation. With that said, I plan to explore career opportunities that allow me to engage in ‘hands-on’ research. Some examples include, working in a research capacity for the police, or working as an analyst at Statistics Canada. It would also be neat to work as a Defence Scientist for Defence Research and Development Canada.  

Describe the kinds of professional development activities you have taken part in (e.g. volunteering, professional skills workshops, student association, GSA).

I have been fortunate to be involved in SSHRC funded research projects as a research assistant. This has been invaluable for developing professional skills I would not have obtained in my degree. One project was a community initiative that looked at the police complaints system (PCS) in Ontario, and ways to improve it. The project involved a two-day Forum incorporating several stakeholders including: community/health organizations, community members, police, and academics. The inclusion of stakeholders with competing interests was both challenging and rewarding. The goal was to understand challenges with the PCS and produce recommendations to amend the PCS.

Describe the value of these professional development opportunities and how they have complemented your academic experiences.

My Forum experience was extremely rewarding. Given the practical setting of this event, I obtained several professional skills: (1) I learned how to plan and organize a large-scale event with various stakeholders. This involved outreach activities and participating in various meetings; (2) I learned the value of teamwork and taking initiative in a leadership role; (3) I learned how to communicate effectively with various stakeholders; and finally, (4) I learned how to problem solve, pre-emptively and in “real time” as unforeseen problems occurred during and after the event. These professional skills were complimented by the research skills I gained through this experience.

Is there anything else you want to share?

I have been a graduate student for a long time, GRADventure was developed long after I began and I wish I had access to it earlier in my studies. The resources available to develop professional skills are invaluable for your career aspirations whether you seek employment inside or outside of academia. I plan to take advantage of the professional development skill-building workshops offered on campus. I hope you will too!

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