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Making the most of the UWaterloo grad experience

Meghan Riley is a doctoral student in English language and literature currently studying descriptions of race and gender in speculative fiction at Waterloo. As a graduate student who is extremely passionate about aiding the academic success of others, Meghan has become extremely involved in the Waterloo community.  

Meghan began volunteering in the Centre for Career Action in 2015, editing resumes. Since 2016, she has been employed with the Student Success Office as a Peer Mentorship team lead. On top of these commitments, Meghan is also a graduate student employee with the Centre for Teaching Excellence as a workshop facilitator. With the final goal in mind of being a full-time professor and pursuing student services, Meghan is an excellent example of how well thought out volunteer endeavours can aid graduate students in pursuing their future careers.  

Q: When did you start getting involved on campus?

A: When I was first accepted into Waterloo I was very interested in ways that I could be involved on campus beyond the graduate student experience. I happened to see an ad for student career leaders at the Centre for Career Action. It really appealed to me because I was already reviewing resumes at a previous role that I had held at my past school. What I liked about the position was that it gave me the opportunity to work one on one with students rather than online. I contacted the coordinator of that program and expressed my interest. I continued to look out for notices and to keep up with the e-news, making sure I was always aware of what was going on around campus. I kept my focus on roles that allowed me to develop my skill set around teaching and student interaction.

Q: In terms of personal success and your academic development, how have you felt that taking on these roles and being more involved in the UWaterloo community has helped your personal success?

A: I think learning and becoming more aware of the culture at Waterloo through working with students has been extremely beneficial to me. I realized that undergrad students have a lot to deal with term to term and this realization impacted the way in which I structure the courses I teach. Specifically, working in the Stuent Success Office allowed me to obtain access to so many amazing people and familiarize myself with the services offered by the University. I also found that this position has given me the opportunity to exponentially build on my presentation skills and gain more confidence in my own leadership abilities.

Q: What advice do you have for grad students who are trying to get more involved in the UWaterloo community?

A: I know sometimes it can be very difficult to reach out if you do not know what the community is like and feel as though you know no one. My biggest tip would probably be to always stay open to all opportunities. Constantly be checking e-news and scanning your environment for posters around campus. I know it can be hard because we have such busy schedules but the opportunities are for sure out there! Waterloo offers many positions that will allow you not only to give back but also to aid you in your professional development.

Do not be afraid to take advantage of these opportunities and make the most out of your time here.

I know it may sometimes feel like this is an undergraduate predominated campus, but that is honestly not the case and there are plenty of opportunities out there if you just look for them.

Q: Anything else you would like to add?

A: I would say that it can be difficult as a grad student, sometimes, to figure out what sorts of opportunities are relevant to you and your career path and personal development. It is important to remember that a lot of the posting that you see on Leads that are advertised for undergrads are also available to grad students. It is an amazing way to connect with people and an opportunity to build not only your professional skills but your personal network. So: do not be afraid, get involved, put yourself out there, and make the most out of your time here.

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