Monthly Archives: September 2010

Effective Networking Workshop

Mitacs is offering a networking workshop at McMaster University (located in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada) on Friday, October 15 from 8:30AM to 12:30PM. The presenter is Donna Messer, a well known Canadian network expert. I attended the same workshop earlier this year. It was very informative and Donna provides a lot of start up ideas for someone just beginning to network. If you attend, remember to bring your business card. The workshop is open to the general public and is free; however, registration is required and there is a credit card deposit of $50. Your credit card will only be charged if you do not attend.

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Hassan Nasir (President of Graduate Student Association)

Hassan Nasir is the current elected President of the Graduate Student Association (GSA) at the University of Waterloo (UW). From 2009 to 2010, he held the elected position of Vice President of Operations and Finance.  In this position, he established a universal bus pass for all full time registered graduate students and spearheaded an extension of health services which will now include a family clinic and additional services.  He has also been a Director at Large and Departmental Councillor for the GSA.  Before Hassan’s involvement with the GSA, he was elected Vice President External for the (UW) Civil and Environmental Engineering Graduate Student Association.

As GSA president he is the “head representative of the graduate students within the university and outside the university”. Primarily, this role involves sitting on various committees such as the Board of Governors, Senate, GSA council, chairing the Long Range Planning Committee and co-chairing the Graduate Student Relations Committee with the Associate Provost of Graduate Studies.   In these committees, he advocates on graduate student issues, votes and often simply listens to remain up-to-date on university issues.  He also attends three meetings (the Policy and Strategy Meeting, Lobby Conference and Annual General Meeting) of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations.  Each meeting is a week long and occurs annually in different Canadian cities.

There are many issues that Hassan is involved in.  An important issue that many universities, including UW, focus on is graduate student funding. The GSA helped establish a minimum funding guarantee for PhD students but there is currently no such guarantee for Master’s students. In addition, the higher cost of living and rise in tuition is a serious concern affecting all graduate students. This is compounded with the provincial government’s announcement in March that there will be a ban on salary increases for the 2010 to 2011 fiscal year which means there will be no increase in teaching assistant pay rates.  There will be a small increase in the minimum funding guarantee for PhD students but Hassan knows that this is not a sufficient increase.  Hassan also recognizes the diverse group of students attending UW, especially at the graduate level.  For example, UW has a higher percentage of graduate students with families among the top 13 research intensive universities in Canada.  Naturally, one of the main issues Hassan is interested in is providing adequate family housing and childcare for graduate students on graduate student salaries. Another concern Hassan foresees is limited resources as the graduate student population grows.  In particular, UW is aiming to double their graduate student population from approximately 4000 to 8000 by 2017.  Many issues such as office space, which all full-time UW graduate students are entitled to, and parking space will arise.  In fact, limited office and parking space are already current issues Hassan is dealing with.

In addition to his role as GSA president, Hassan is also a full-time second-year PhD student in the department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Although the demands of the GSA can at times be hectic, there is downtime especially in the summer and he never feels his studies and research suffer.  After years involved with the GSA, Hassan has “mastered balancing both roles”.

Hassan feels a great deal of satisfaction with his GSA involvement and sees the benefits of his hard work; so naturally, his words of wisdom to current and future graduate students is to become more “involved with working for the students, departments and community.”  He also appreciates the “respectful and accommodating” environment at UW and encourages everyone to continue with this tradition.

Thank you to Hassan for taking the time to do this interview.

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CTV Open House

Canadian Television Network (CTV) is opening its doors to the general public on Saturday, September 25, 2010.  Locations all across Canada are participating in the open house including A channel stations.  Activities include meeting news anchors, field reporters and behind-the-cameras crew, facility tours, free food, face painting and more.  For more details on locations and activities click here.

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Career Mentoring Program

The University of Alberta is offering a career mentoring program for current University of Alberta (undergraduate and graduate) students and postdoctoral fellows. You will be matched with a career mentor who will help you make a successful transition from student to employee. For a complete list of the program’s activities and time commitments, click here. There is an application package which needs to be completed by October 6, 2010 and also an interview for potential candidates. (Not everyone who applies will be accepted into the program and there is a cost of $25 for those who are accepted.) An information session will be available on Thursday, September 23  and Wednesday, September 29 for anyone interested and looking for more information in the mentoring program.

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National Biotechnology Week

National Biotechnology Week (September 17 to 24, 2010) celebrates Canadian biotechnology researchers and innovators. There are many events being held across Canada for various age groups.  Activities include lectures, demonstrations, facility tours, workshops, networking events and more.

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Career Fairs

Many universities host or sponsor career fairs for its students and alumni. Career fairs bring a large number of potential employers into one room which makes networking and finding career opportunities a lot easier for students and job seekers. When attending a career fair, remember to dress and conduct yourself in a professional manner, bring your business cards and/or resumes and do a little research in advance on the employers you are most interested in. For more tips on how to prepare for a career fair click here.

The University of Alberta is hosting a career fair on September 22, 2010 from 10 am to 4 pm at the Butterdome, which is located on the university campus. There will be more than 200 employers from across Canada attending (for a complete list click here).

The University of Waterloo is also sponsoring a career fair on September 29, 2010 from 10 am to 3:30 pm at RIM Park in Waterloo, Ontario. The three other participating institutions are Conestoga College, University of Guelph and Wilfred Laurier University. Admission is free for students and alumni from participating institutions. There is a $40 fee for students enrolled in other Canadian post-secondary institutions.

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Doors Open

Doors Open is a global initiative, originating in France more than 25 years ago and started in North America ten years ago, which brings awareness to the heritage sites in our community. On Doors Open day, historic buildings in and around your city are open to the general public and all admission is free. Many of these buildings are usually not open to the public and/or charge admission. To find out the times and locations around your community, click here.

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