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A Balancing Act Between Prestige and Preference

     There is nothing wrong with being career driven, in fact it is admirable and encouraged to have a goal that you are actively working towards achieving. Taking every opportunity that you come across and seeking out ways to make yourself stand out as a candidate when applying for positions, through your education and experience demonstrates an immense amount of motivation and dedication. However, while this “do whatever to be successful” mindset can be very productive it can also be detrimental, as one may become too robotically focused on what will “look good” on their resume, resulting in an unintentional ignorance towards equally beneficial opportunities.

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How did I join 5 labs in 2 years?

The title may appear to be an impossible feat, but it is achievable. Let’s start from an email.

Writing an email:

Two years ago, in U1, I emailed multiple professors to forage an available lab. However, I got ignored. It turned out the titles of the emails I had sent, such as “Volunteering in a lab” and “Paid research assistant position”, had a problem.

If I could go back, I would title the emails as such: “BIOL396 Research Course Supervisor”.

To start off, the chance of getting paid as an undergraduate student is essentially nil unless you could code proficiently. So, let’s forget about the money.

A research course such as BIOL396 spans across multiple departments to tailor to whatever the department your supervisor is affiliated. For example, if your supervisor is in the Pharmacology Department, take PHAR396. For a professor, instead of pointlessly having students volunteering in a lab once a week, offering students a project is more sensible. A project could require students to commit 20-40 hours a week in a lab. McGill has designed research courses to confer undergraduate students an independent research project, which reciprocally grants a professor a complete control over a student’s grade. This leaves students with no choice but to commit to their projects. Taking a research course during the summer is also allowed. Most people get A- or A from a research course.

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Becoming More Comfortable Networking


Whether it’s through power posing or positive self-talk, becoming a more comfortable networker can be a helpful step towards starting your career. Networking events allow you to put a face to the professions we learn about in textbooks. While reading the personality profile of an accountant or lawyer may be a helpful way to learn about your dream career path, meeting professionals in the workforce can help you develop a clearer image of your potential future. Not only does networking allow you to gain insight, but it also provides you with the opportunity to connect with experienced professionals, giving you an edge when it comes to recruitment. While the benefits of networking are endless, the process can be stressful and uncomfortable at first. After participating in a handful of pre-recruitment accounting events, I’ve learned how to make the most of networking.
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Competition and Our View of Success – Exploring the Effects of Social Darwinism

I studied earth system science in my undergraduate. It’s a small program in which we learn about how the earth behaves as one single system. Learning about the earth has many perks, such as traveling to different places around the world with the excuse of studying diverse landscapes and ecosystems. (more…)

Now That You’re an Alumni – Ways to Stay Connected

Congratulations on completing this chapter of your life! It might feel like a small eternity ago since you first received that acceptance letter in the mail. Now, years after taking the leap of moving to a new city, or even just immersing in a new environment, the McGill community that once seemed so vast and unexplored has now become a comforting bubble. With an undergraduate degree now under your belt, remember to stay connected to your McGill roots as you go out into the world.

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The Trouble With Loving Too Many Things – How to Be Less Distracted

I can be easily distracted. There’s easily half-a-dozen different lives and lifestyles that I can imagine for myself, and I could be happy with any of these paths. From dreams of being a traveling nomad, to desires of becoming articulate in movement through dance, to thoughts about continuing my studies in earth science, and even new pursuits of counseling psychology – these broad and varied interests all have a life of their own. I often find myself torn between the need to explore more into each of these interests and convincing myself to take my time, while at the same time, feeling restless about not being able to commit.

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My Take on Interviews and How to Kill Them

I am going to start by saying that interviews are horrible. I believe that they are a terrible way to judge someone’s character and ability to work well. It is understandable that no one would hire a stranger without having met them first, but interviews have become mortifying interrogations that are as stressful as exams. They require tremendous skill and so much practice. That being said, becoming good at interviews is in everyone’s reach as long as time and effort are invested. I have been both lucky and unlucky to have been called into quite a few interviews in the last 4 months, since graduation, and here are a few tips that I would like to share about the process.

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3 Steps to Striving Through Uncertain Times – Living your Questions

The feeling of uncertainty is hard to describe, but we have all felt it. It can be the doubt that inhibits action, the lack of conviction in a particular choice, or the ambiguity surrounding the future. We will all go through phases when everything familiar seems to change – starting a new career, moving to a new city, losing a loved one, starting a new relationship. For some people, graduating from university is one of those times, specifically graduating without any specific plans.

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How to Negotiate a Job Offer – Workshop Overview

Life is full of negotiations and compromises. However, when we think about negotiating a job offer, the stereotypes of greedy, bossy and uncommitted people quickly surface. Many people fear that negotiating a job offer will lead to tension in the workplace, or even cause them to lose an offer*. Consequently, many people shy away from negotiating and from asking for a better work experience for themselves. To help us navigate the complexities of negotiating a job offer, McGill’s Career Planning Services (CaPS) hosted a workshop called “Negotiating Your Academic Job Offer” on March 30th, presented by Dr. Niem Huynh, as part of the Academic Career Week. Here, I summarize the main strategies for negotiating a job offer.

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Grades Matter, but Experience Matters More

Why does it seem that being successful at school means employers will be lining up at our doors to hire us when we graduate? It’s not true! If we have no job experience, we are at the bottom of the hiring pool behind candidates who have already been part of the work force for several years. Retrospectively, if I had worked hard at finding unpaid or even paid experience in my field, instead of just focusing on excelling in the classroom during my studies, I feel as if I would have been better equipped for the job search now. (more…)

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