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My Experience Working for a Non-Profit

This summer, I volunteered for la Fondation Jeunes en Tête, a non-profit organization that raises awareness about the well-being and mental health of young people in Quebec. By spending nearly every Wednesday at their head office, I got to experience life working for a non-profit, meet incredibly generous and welcoming people, and contribute to a cause that I care about. Here’s what I learned and what I would have done differently.  (more…)

Scholarships 101

Receiving a scholarship can be a way to ease financial stress, get recognition for your work, boost your CV, and learn more about yourself. Whether you’re in financial need or not, the amount of work needed to qualify for scholarships can sometimes be discouraging. However, scholarships have varying levels of effort and reward. Taking the time to research scholarships—and to find out whether it’s worth your time and effort—is the first step in getting the scholarship of your dreams. Here are my tips to help you get started.

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Doing the Research

Whether you’re writing a new version of your CV or getting ready for an interview, it’s always worth preparing yourself by doing research or seeing an advisor. McGill has a wide set of resources to help students present themselves in an ideal way to employers or anyone else. If you need to write a cover letter or efficiently search for jobs, McGill resources—like CaPS or faculty-specific resources and advisors—can help you get where you need to be. Here are the resources that I’ve found most helpful.

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Research Retreat Experience

I just returned from a 2 day research retreat with the Anatomy and Cell Biology department and I would like to detail some of my experiences there. The retreat was at a hotel 50 minutes by car away from downtown Montreal. As soon as we got there, we checked in (but our rooms weren’t ready yet), and the research talks would immediately start. The chair of the department gave an opening (which I missed as I was in line for check in), then a professor talked about the Naylor Report. This report basically showed that funding for research in Canada was decreasing and that we were declining in our competitiveness compared to other countries. It would be important for all of those interested in pursuing a career in research or are already in research to write letters to their MPs or even try to get the attention of the Minister of Science before the budget in 2018 is decided.

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396 Research Course

I just did a 396 research course in the Winter 2017 semester. Before I registered for it, I went to talk to my departmental advisor to ask for more information. She said it was a great way to do research in a professor’s lab and have it count toward your degree. What was also really nice was that you do not have to a 396 in your own department. You could be in Anatomy and Cell Biology and do a 396 from the biology department or physiology department or other departments.

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How did I join 5 labs in 2 years?

laboratory

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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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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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…)

“So What?”: Conquering Your Argument

sowhatt

Imagine your audience is an angst-ridden teenager. They like to wear black eyeliner, give you attitude and remain both cool and aloof. They read your paper and say, “So what?” (probably just to antagonize you). While they might grow-out of this phase, the “So what?” of your writing may never change.

Unless you work at it.

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