A multi-day conference for graduate students and postdocs

People holding signs with symbols for skill development

The 2022 conference has now concluded. This page will be updated during the winter 2023 term with information about the 2023 conference. 

This conference, held in collaboration with multiple campus partners, is designed to better prepare graduate students and postdocs for careers outside of academia by focusing on key skill areas sought after by employers, as well as offering insights into personal growth that will be valuable in any career path. Not ready to think about your next step yet? Don’t worry. This conference emphasizes skills that will help you succeed now, while you’re doing research at Waterloo, and later, in your future career.

Conference participants will have the opportunity to engage in sessions covering each of the four Professional Skills Foundations (Foundations) core categories: Career Preparation; Communication; Leadership; and, Personal Effectiveness. 

Continue below for the following event details:

Please note: Separate registration is required for each session. Graduate students and postdocs are welcome to register for and attend all conference sessions, or only those that meet their current needs or schedule. 

2022 Conference Schedule

April 19 sessions

April 19, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. ET Lightning talks
April 19, 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. ET Managing your Online Presence  (Career Preparation)                                       
April 19, 2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET Burnout or bounce (Leadership)

April 20 sessions

April 20, 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. ET Professional Communication in the Workplace (Communication)                        
April 20, 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. ET Healthy Habits and Motivation in the Workplace (Personal Effectiveness) 
April 20, 2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET Invitation to Equity: Leading with Empathy and Curiosity (Leadership)

April 21 sessions

April 21, 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. ET RRSP, TFSA, IDK? Making sense of your savings options (Personal Effectiveness) 
April 21, 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. ET Managing Imposter Phenomenon (Personal Effectiveness)      
April 21, 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. ET Trivia Time

Session descriptions

Lightning talks

To start off the GRADventure Professional Skills Conference, you’ll hear lightning talks from different University of Waterloo staff members presenting on relevant topics from their areas of expertise. After the lightning talks, you’ll have an opportunity to join a breakout room with one of our lightning talk facilitators to learn more about the topic and ask questions.

Lightning talks:

  • Understanding your writing habits - Nadine Flaad (she/her), Writing and Multimodal Communication Specialist, Writing and Communication Centre
    • Are you working hard, but not making the kind of progress you’d like to make? The first step to turbo-charging your writing practice is to understand your individual writing habits. Learn to harness the power of reflection to understand and refine your writing process with these tools and strategies from the WCC.
  • Create a community of writers with a writing group - Elise Vist (they/them), Multimodal and Public Scholarship Program Developer, Writing and Communication Centre
    • Are you ready to start writing, but keep getting distracted by video games/a sink full of dishes/your pandemic puppy/scrolling through social media? Distractions can make it hard to write alone, which is why many writers rely on writing groups to stay focused! Consider starting your own writing group with these tips and tricks from the WCC.
  • Commercialization in your research - John Dick (he/him), Director, Velocity

    • This lightening talk will get you to think about how you may apply your research to create your own enterprise. The University of Waterloo has an inventor ownership policy (Policy 73) which helps streamline research commercialization through licensing of intellectual property or the creation of a startup. We will review these options and describe what is involved when translating your research into a product.

  • Supports for commercialization - John Dick (he/him), Director, Velocity

    • Building on the commercialization lightening talk, we will review the resources and support available on campus to all graduate students interested in bringing their research to market. This will include a description of Velocity, the Waterloo Commercialization Office (WatCo) and their joint Translation Program.

  • Manage time and maintain balance - Nicolas Banks, PSC, Student Success Office

    • In hopes to be on top of your academics, it is easy to neglect other important parts of our lives, such as mental health.  In this lightning talk, we will help you ‘Manage time and Maintain Balance’ so that you can create your own plan to prepare for all of your projects deadlines! We will also walk you through different strategies and ways in which you can achieve balance and better mental health.

  • Splash of Colour to Leadership: Using Personality Dimensions to become a Self-Reflective Leader – Maddi Taylor, Team Lead, Student Leadership Program, Student Success Office (SSO) & Kobisha Rajeswaran, Team Lead, Foundational Training Program for Peer Leaders, SSO

    • Join student staff, Maddi and Kobisha, to learn about how personality dimensions can help you become a self-reflective leader. While sharing how your personality can be a resourceful tool in connecting with our personal needs and values, Maddi and Kobisha will also discuss ways to participate in the Student Leadership Program (SLP) and Foundational Training Program for Peer Leaders (FTP).

  • Giving Effective and Actionable Feedback – Kristin Brown (she/her), Educational Developer, TA Training and Writing Support, Centre for Teaching Excellence

    • Feedback plays a critical role in the graduate student and postdoc experience as well as our academic and professional lives. Yet we don't spend time reflecting on what effective feedback is or developing this foundational skill. In this lightning talk, we'll reflect on, and discuss, the qualities of, and best practices for giving, effective and actionable feedback.

Managing your Online Presence

In this interactive workshop you will reflect on the skills and knowledge you’ve gained in graduate school and ways you can showcase this on LinkedIn and other online platforms.  

Presenter bio: Kira Bruschke (she/her) is a Career Advisor at the Centre for Career Action who supports graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in their career development. As a registered psychotherapist, Kira is interested in career well-being and supporting folks in clarifying their career identity and goals.

Burnout or Bounce

Humanicity’s interactive Burnout or Bounce workshop is designed to empower your people to optimize their energy and enhance overall well-being. Participants will walk away with practical tools and strategies to help recognize and respond to the cues and signals of burnout and the blurry line
between stress and distress. We will explore practical strategies around how to build resilience and bounce forward through creating awareness of the qualities that can enhance or undermine our stress resilience and adaptability across a range of circumstances.

Presenter bio: Sandra Corelli (she/her) is a leadership and culture strategist, keynote speaker, consultant, mediator, and coach. As Founder and CEO of Humanicity Consulting Group, she brings global experience and a multi-disciplinary approach to her work, drawing on neuroscience, human behaviour, positive psychology, and emotional intelligence. Sandra consults with clients in the areas of leadership development, inclusion, culture and well-being in the workplace. 

Professional Communication in the Workplace

Professionalism is a key element that you must show in different ways, both in and beyond a workplace. One of the most important ways to showcase professionalism is through professional communication. This workshop is designed for individuals who are entering their professional careers, to help you understand the concept of professional communication & decide which professional communication strategies work best for you, so you can forge your own path to confidently take on any communication barriers that comes your way in your workplace.

Presenter bio: Jirina Poch (she/her) is the Workshops and Integrated Programs Coordinator at the Writing and Communication Centre. She is dedicated to the support and facilitation of student learning, specifically with the development, implementation, and delivery of online and in person programming for UG, GRAD, and Postdocs. She completed her undergraduate studies in Language and Literature at the University of Waterloo, and continued her education at Western University, achieving her BEd and MEd with distinction. Jirina is registered with the Ontario College of Teachers and is pursuing her second Masters, in MDEI, to continually support the ever-changing landscape of virtual learning. In addition to working with students, Jirina liaises with faculty instructors to promote course-integrated support options for students writing and communication goals."

Healthy Habits and Motivation in the Workplace

The pandemic has changed the notion of the “workplace” and the way we work with one another. In this workshop we will explore the nature of the changing workplace, its impact on workers and teams, and ways to stay engaged and motivated.

Presenter bio: Cheri Bilitz (she/her) is the Director of Counselling Services at the University of Waterloo. She has over 15 years of leadership experience, and prior to coming to University of Waterloo, she worked in the community in the addictions and mental health sector. She is passionate about restorative justice and holds a certificate in conflict management and mediation through Conrad Grebel University College. At UWaterloo, Cheri strives to create a department that is inclusive, welcoming and meets the diverse needs of students.

Invitation to Equity: Leading with Empathy and Curiosity

Join Jazz Fitzgerald (they/she), the Student Success Office’s Student Equity Specialist, for a collaborative workshop grounded in self-reflection and conversation. This workshop will not only highlight some key concepts and terminology related to equity, but it will also invite attendees to reflect on their personal entries to equity work – both personally and professionally. Attendees are encouraged to bring their questions, thoughts, and ideas – as there will be ample time to converse with others during the session.  

Presenter bio: Jazz Fitzgerald (they/she), is the Student Equity Specialist at the Student Success Office of the University of Waterloo. They works collaboratively and strategically with staff across the SSO to determine how existing services and programs can better serve the unique needs of equity deserving students at UWaterloo. Jazz has an educational background in Youth and Family Studies, Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and – in addition to her work on the Auraria campus – they pursued a Master’s in Social Sciences with an emphasis in Women and Gender Studies. 

RRSP, TFSA, IDK? Making sense of your savings options

Welcome to a crash course on understanding RRSPs and TFSAs – and not just what the abbreviations mean. You’ll discover what these plans are, how they work, and how to make saving with them work for you. All this without having to throw your hands up and say NVM, LMGTFY or, worse, WT…

Presenter bio: Andrew Bauer is an Associate Professor in the School of Finance and Accounting at the University of Waterloo, as well as the Canada Research Chair in Taxation, Governance, and Risk. Andrew's main area of research involves corporate tax. More specifically, examining the influence of agency issues on tax planning, including governance mechanisms, and the role of uncertainty in shaping tax planning, including risk assessment. Other specific research interests include internal control, risk more generally, and data analytics.

Managing Imposter Phenomenon

Have you ever felt like you don’t belong in academia and will be found out as a fraud? You aren't alone. In this workshop, you will learn about what imposter phenomenon is as well as why it is so common amongst academics. We will then discuss strategies to combat imposter feelings as an individual and as part of a larger academic community.

Presented by: Graeme Northcote (he/him) is the Graduate and Postdoctoral Programming Specialist with Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs at the University of Waterloo. Graeme works with colleagues at Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs (GSPA) and other campus partners to develop and facilitate events and programs related to graduate student and postdoc experience. He also manages the Professional Skills Foundations Program, which helps graduate students develop core skills to help them succeed in academia and their careers.

Professional Skills Foundations participants

Interested in having session attendance count towards progress in the Professional Skills Foundations program? Follow these steps: 

New Foundations participants: Hearing about Foundations for the first time? Here are the steps you need to take to have Professional Skills Conference sessions count towards your Foundations progress: 

  • Register for the online Introductory Foundations workshop
  • Once you've received access to the online workshop in LEARN, complete all five modules 
  • Prepare your Individual Development Plan (IDP), as described in the modules, ensuring to include the conference sessions you wish to count towards your Foundations progress
  • Book a one-on-one IDP review meeting to have your IDP approved before the conference begins

Current Foundations participants: Complete the following steps, depending on your current progress through the Foundations program: 

  • Introductory workshop completed, but Individual Development Plan (IDP) not yet approved:
    • Complete your IDP, including the sessions from the conference you wish to count towards your Foundations progress
    • Book an IDP review meeting to have it approved before the conference begins
  • Individual Development Plan (IDP) approved:
    • If you wish to count a session from the conference instead of a workshop on your approved IDP, email GRADventure@uwaterloo.ca with the name(s) of the workshop(s) you wish to replace, the name(s) of the session(s) you wish to count towards Foundations progress, and a brief rationale for the requested change. Please note, changes must be approved prior to the conference sessions