Posts for the Topic Student Experiences

Getting involved in student associations for professional and personal development: Reflections from a year-long mandate as the Computer Science (CS) Graduate Student Association (GSA) President

As a graduate student at the University of Waterloo, there are many opportunities to develop personal and professional skills by joining a student association. These individual benefits, as usually advertised by the associations, include: making a positive impact in students’ social lives, influencing community life on campus, networking, and transferring the skills we learn as students into a more professional dynamic.

Benefits of a team-driven PhD

Before starting my PhD at the University of Waterloo, I had the expectation that a PhD would involve me picking my own research problem and working independently on the problem. My first semester during the PhD brought me to the realization that I would be working in teams on multiple industry projects, which were supposed to guide me towards identifying a relevant research problem.

Developing leadership skills as a grad student: My experience as a Community Assistant

Betsy Mathew, second from left, with the Community Assistant team at the CLV Ping Pong/Foosball/Pool tournament. (Photo credit:

I started my master’s program in September 2018 and have been living in Columbia Lake Village (CLV) since then. When I saw the posting for the CLV Community Assistant position for the winter semester, I was more than happy to apply. I’ve always wanted to develop my leadership skills and thought that this was the perfect opportunity.

Recognizing, building and articulating skills: The Foundations experience

Professional Skills Foundations logo

In summer 2019, Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs celebrated the first completions of Professional Skills Foundations (Foundations), including those by Irina Oltean and Swakshar Saha. To learn more about what it’s like to participate in Foundations, I checked-in with Irina and Swakshar to hear about their experience.

GRADflix - Make every frame a painting

The GRADflix winners pose on the red carpet

If I asked you to explain your research to me in 1 minute, what would you say? This was the question I kept asking myself while I was brainstorming ideas for my entry to GRADflix earlier this year. As a previous contestant in University of Waterloo’s Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition, I knew how tricky it was to condense my thesis work into a 180 second talk and the thought of shortening this down further to only 60 seconds seemed downright impossible at first.

Keys to research productivity: Work-life balance in the Waterloo Region

Rocks balanced on the beach

How does one avoid burnout in grad school, and maintain a high degree of personal effectiveness in one’s “GRADventure?” The answer to that is “don’t forget to have fun” – relaxation is key. ... Take advantage of what is around. There are many things one can do in Kitchener-Waterloo and surrounding areas.

Internship 101, Part 1: Are graduate students too smart for internships?

Justine Salam attends a conference on Europe's energy future while an intern with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Few graduate students, especially those in PhD programs, pursue internships during their graduate studies. Are graduate students too smart for internships? Having completed an internship during my PhD, the short answer is, “certainly not.”

Gaining perspective through interdisciplinary collaboration

Simron Singh, Audrey Chung, Justin Carpenter, George Dixon, and Jeff Casello at GRADtalks

We are Audrey Chung and Justin Carpenter, two PhD candidates at the University of Waterloo, and we were the speakers at Beyond 60: The Promises and Realities of Artificial Intelligence. We’re from different disciplines — Systems Design Engineering and English — and, as a result, approach the topic of artificial intelligence quite differently.

The Lake Shift: An interview with Becky and Tariq

Becky Anderson and Tariq Aziz

In July 2018, Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs sponsored two PhD students, Becky Anderson and Tariq Aziz, to attend the Lake Shift writing retreat. Hosted by Queen’s University, the Lake Shift is a thesis writing retreat for doctoral students from Ontario universities held at the Queen’s Biology Station on Lake Opinicon. I checked-in with Becky and Tariq to hear about their experience at the Lake Shift:

Tell us a bit about yourself. What program are you in and what is your research focus?

Adding fun to your grad life: Connect to your residence community

Ekin Eray holds a gingerbread house made during a community event.

When I first moved to Waterloo 3 years ago for my PhD studies, I didn’t know much about life in Canada. I decided to stay in residences for a term to be close to campus and to get used to the city, and then look for an off-campus options. But I enjoyed living in Columbia Lake Village (CLV) North so much that I never left after I moved in.

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