"Cultivate a community of support. Whether that means friends or peers or the support services at UWaterloo, or some combination of all of them."
Graeme Northcote, PhD student, English Language and Literature
"Research what you are most passionate about. Not a hot topic, not something that will make you rich, not something your supervisor is good at. You are going to be stuck for years researching, talking about and practicing whatever topic you decide. If you desire excellent results, you need to feel like it is your topic and gives you a reason to wake up and work every single morning."
Carlos Andrés Araiza Iturria, PhD student, Actuarial Science
“Being a grad student is very much a "you pick your story" experience. There are so many components such as research work, free courses and auditing, TA experience, and more.”
Ryan Fang, MSc student, Electrical Engineering
"I love the freedom and power I have in managing my own time. As someone who is dedicated to making schedules far in advance and creating detailed action plans, the flexibility I have as a grad student is wonderful."
Cindy Wei, MSc student, Kinesiology
"At the end of the day, there are many fantastic opportunities available to you as a grad student but you also have to make sure that you are making space for your well-being."
Liza Boyar, PhD student, Public Health and Health Systems
"It's easy to put a lot of pressure on yourself as a student and to be constantly striving for perfection. This constant push to be better and do more is inherent in our society and you have to be very conscious about setting boundaries and pushing back against that."
Rebecca Brunswick-Werner, MMT student, (Mathematics for Teachers)
"The Writing and Communication Centre has been an amazing resource to me as a graduate student. Through their one-on-one meetings, I have become a better writer. I have also enjoyed participating in their workshops. During Reading Week, I had the opportunity to participate in their Dissertation Workshop. This workshop provided us with skills to overcome procrastination and plateauing in our writing and ways to connect to other graduate students who were going through the same thing."
Carrie Shorey, PhD student, Public Health and Health Systems (Aging, Health and Well-Being)
"Move forward one step at a time, day by day, and try to leave enough time to explore the world around you - maintaining a balanced social life while in graduate school is critical. Make an effort to strike a balance between your academic and personal life."
Navya V. Nair, PhD student, Sustainability Management
"Do your graduate degree if you are passionate for what you are doing; succeeding in something that you care about is much easier. And be patient, mistakes are inevitable in research. You will experience failures, no matter how clever you are."
Aaron Yip, PhD student, Chemical Engineering
"The best part about being a graduate student is the independence and flexibility that comes with the nature of the studies. Graduate school also allows you to develop yourself personally and professionally."
Eugenia Dadzie, MSc student, Biology
"Challenges are a part of life. Doing a Master's is no different. It's an obstacle that you have to overcome if you want to elevate your ability to read, write, and build your critical thinking. Go into your Master's with an open mind on learning, only then will you see it as an opportunity and not just a challenge."
Prince Khan, MEDI student, Economic Development and Innovation
"There are many events that will happen in your life that you will have no control over, so try to understand the lessons from those moments and use those as a source of growth. Try not to attach your self-esteem to how much you are producing. We are all capable beings and production is ephemeral, but kindness to yourself and other beings is everlasting."
Ileana Diaz, PhD student, Geography and Environmental Management
"Look around and see what's available to you, then try something! I felt really overwhelmed when I first started grad school. It seemed like there was always something I didn't know. So, I started to look for things I wanted and then I talked to people about it. Opportunities came up and I applied. Even when things looked like a long shot. I think that curiosity and willingness really pay off."
Janet Jones, PhD student, Applied Philosophy
"It can feel more isolating in graduate school than when studying for an undergraduate degree. Especially since my graduate degree was during the pandemic, I did not have in-person classes every day and didn’t get the chance to interact with other people in my program as easily. What helped me feel connected to the campus was attending events put on by the Graduate Student Association (GSA), joining clubs on campus, and meeting weekly with other students in my research group."
Nicholas Richardson, MMath student, Applied Mathematics
"The first few months of graduate school feel overwhelming, but it is definitely worth the hard work."
Vega Kapoor, MMath student, Actuarial Science
"Be open to learning new material and to take each and every opportunity to share your work with others; there is no better place than a conference to receive constructive criticism for your work."
Thomas Milovac, PhD student, Applied Philosophy
“I think with the huge amount of personal and professional investments a grad student makes in their education, stress management can be a significant challenge. To alleviate it, I personally choose to be consistent and not to expect instantaneous “rewards”. PhD research takes time, and I do not believe there is such a thing as failure. Just being consistent and having short-term/long-term plans helps to manage the level of stress.”
Fatemeh Ahmadloo, PhD student, Electrical and Computer Engineering
“If there was one piece of advice I could give new students, it would be not to get sucked into how much work or how little work others around you are doing. The comparison will drain you. Focus on your work. The most important thing you can get out of grad school is the connections you make throughout your journey—grades matter but not more than those relationships with professors and other students.”
Karmvir Padda, PhD student, Sociology
“My best advice is to get involved as much as possible. When you see opportunities, whether it’s to present somewhere, join a club or lend your expertise somewhere, I recommend taking every chance that comes your way. This campus is very large and full of incredible opportunities that are waiting for you to seize them. Ask questions when you're curious and work on finding solutions and answers. Apply even when you think you don't have a shot. You don't know where your next great adventure will start.”
Aiman Fatima, MSc student, Kinesiology
Quote: “The best part about being a graduate student is the freedom you get to work on your own interests. "Do what is best for you" is something that I have often heard from my professors, and this has been really paying off.”
Hari Har Jnawali, PhD student, Global Governance