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Friday, April 28, 2017 (all day)

grad students working together

Register now for a full day conference designed to better prepare PhD students and postdocs for careers outside of academia. Hosted by GRADventure in partnership with the Centre for Career Action, this conference will feature interactive workshops, a panel of PhDs/PhD candidates who have followed non-linear career paths, as well as a keynote speaker, Adam Ruben: writer, comedian and molecular biologist.

Keynote requires a separate RSVP.

Please note: This is an all-day event. Registrants must plan to attend every session.  

  • Open to PhD students and postdoctoral fellows
  • Lunch provided
8:30am to 9:00am

Registration & Coffee (HH Atrium)

9:05am to 10:30am

Concurrent Workshops

  • Networking as a Work Search Strategy (HH1102)
  • Writing Beyond Academia: Professional Communication Skills (HH1104)
10:30am to 10:45am


10:45am to 12:00pm

Concurrent Workshops

  • Improve your Interview Skills (HH1102)
  • LinkedIn Matters (HH1104)
12:15pm to 12:45pm Lunch (HH Atrium) 
12:45pm to 1:45pm  

Adam Ruben: Surviving your stupid, stupid decision to go to graduate school (HH1101) 

1:45pm to 2:00pm    

Break (HH Atrium)

2:00pm to 3:30pm

Panel Discussion: Non-Linear Career Paths for PhDs (HH1101)

3:30pm to 4:30pm     Adam Ruben: Keynote Presentation (requires separate RSVP): "I'm a Professor, You're a professor, He's a Professor, She's a Professor; Wouldn't you like to be a Professor, too?: The Death Grip of Academic Science" (HH1101)
4:30pm to 5:30pm Wine & Cheese and Book Signing with Adam Ruben (books $15) (HH Atrium) 

Program Description


Networking as a Work Search Strategy

Facilitator: Erica Refling, Graduate Career Advisor, Centre for Career Action
In this interactive workshop, you’ll discuss the value of making connections, practice your professional introduction, and develop a “next steps” action plan for expanding your network.

Writing Beyond Academia: Professional Communication Skills

Facilitators: Mandy Penney, Writing and Multimodal Communication Specialist, Writing and Communication Centre
Nadine Fladd, Writing and Multimodal Communication Specialist, Writing and Communication Centre
​This workshop will give you the opportunity to learn more about communication genres in professional settings, including conventions for writing emails/memos and conducting effective meetings. You will have the opportunity to ask questions and practice these skills through scenario analysis.

Improve Your Interview Skills

Facilitator: Christine Kampen Robinson, Graduate Career Advisor, Centre for Career Action
​In this interactive workshop, you’ll practice translating academic language to industry language, apply strategies for answering interview questions and evaluate the effectiveness of responses to interview questions.

LinkedIn Matters

Facilitator: Tanya Gillert, Career Advisor, Centre for Career Action
​Discover the benefits of LinkedIn and why the platform is an integral part of pursuing non-academic and academic careers. This interactive workshop is packed with unique tips and know-how to land the job you have been preparing for.

Note: You must bring your own computer to this workshop.

Panel Discussion: Non-Linear Career Paths for PhDs

Eric Blondeel – Cofounder/CTO, ExVivo Labs Inc.

Eric is the Co-Founder and CTO of ExVivo Labs – a Waterloo-based startup that builds next generation medical diagnostic tools. He completed his BSc in Chemical Engineering at the University of Waterloo and is currently completing his PhD in Chemical Engineering at the University of Waterloo. 

Veronica Sepher – HR and Technology Research Advisor, Royal Bank of Canada

Veronica is currently the HR and Technology Research Advisor at the Royal Bank of Canada's Internal Consulting Unit. She also provides professional coaching and career services to graduate students. Veronica completed her BA in Economics (Brandon University), MA in Globalization Studies (McMaster University) and PhD in Global Governance (Balsillie School of International Affairs, Wilfrid Laurier University).

Katharine Tuerke – Science Communications Officer, Faculty of Science, University of Waterloo

Katharine Tuerke is a scientist and journalist. As the Science Communications Officer, she and her team use a variety of tools to highlight the students, faculty, alumni and staff from the Faculty of Science. Specifically, she writes articles for the web, media and publications as well as manages social media and the digital signage in Science. Katharine earned her B.Sc. in Biology and Psychology (Queen’s University) and PhD in Neuroscience (University of Guelph). She has published several academic papers and her doctoral thesis examined the role of serotonin in the insular cortex to understand the mechanism of nausea.

Keynote Speaker

Adam Ruben is a writer, comedian, storyteller, and molecular biologist. For over a decade, he has performed at clubs, colleges, and private venues across the country, including at some of the best-known storytelling shows and comedy clubs. He is the author of Surviving Your Stupid, Stupid Decision to Go to Grad School (Random House, 2010), a satirical guide to the low points and, well, lower points of post-baccalaureate education.  Adam earned his BSc in Molecular Biology from Princeton University and his PhD in Biology from Johns Hopkins University.

Please note that prior to the conference, you will receive an email prompting you to select which workshops you would like to attend, and have the opportunity to let us know about any dietary restrictions or other accommodations you might require.

Registration is limited for this event. If registration is full and you’d like to be placed on a waiting list, or need to cancel, please email Jay Michaud, one of our conference organizers, at

Register here

HH - J.G. Hagey Hall of the Humanities
rooms 1101, 1102, 1104
200 University Avenue West
Waterloo, ON N2L 3G1
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