Thursday, 26 February 2015

Are you a giver, a matcher or a taker?

This weeks post is written by Christine Gertz, Library and Information Specialist at CAPS.

I first became aware of Adam Grant’s book, Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives our Success, when I received a link to his podcast on the book from Knowledge@Wharton. I do try to stay on top of business books that are relevant to career management, but I am also a sucker for the Malcolm Gladwell-style books that link anecdotes and stories with current research, so Give and Take is an example of a business book that I enjoy reading.

I am interested in many of the ideas that were put forward in the book, and will be talking about some of them over the next little while, though I would like to introduce you to the three main styles of interaction that Grant identifies in his book.

The main premise of the book explores reciprocity and interaction style—in other words, are you a taker, matcher or giver? Grant explains these three roles as:

  • Takers who are primarily concerned about their needs, and tend to see the world as competitive with people fighting over scarce opportunities and recognition.
  •  Matchers are the equalizers. They are willing to help others, but they also believe that their generosity should be repaid in kind. They also tend to dislike it when Takers take advantage of others, especially Givers, and are willing to dole out punishment to Takers should the opportunity arise. The majority of people fall into the Matcher category, Grant argues.
  • Givers are the people who are generous, who don’t believe that opportunities are scarce and are willing to step aside if they feel that there is a better candidate who will assert their shared agenda.

Grant asserts that in terms of success at work that, over time, givers tend to come out on top, with matchers and takers filling out the middle ranks of success. Givers also tend to be among the least successful, meaning that you can give too much, or that it can be too early in your career to see the impact of your generosity.

Though these are the styles that people execute in their relationships, the question is not as simple as giver or taker, but when are you a giver or a taker? In our primary, intimate relationships, people are usually givers: we trust and love the people that are close to us, so we tend not to worry about when we get a return from them. It also makes for very uncomfortable family get-togethers when we have to deal with takers in our families.  In addition, people can take more in the early part of their careers, but learn to be more giving as they become more secure; however, the opposite can also happen when youthful generosity is rewarded with exploitative taking. So intimacy, their role in your life and past experience can influence your giving style.

Personally, I am usually skeptical when a label is slapped on a person, since I believe that relationships are complex, but because I tend to talk about what I am reading with our staff, I would like to apply some of these ideas to a discussion that I had with one of our CPEs on how hard it is to network—even though they know it is effective and have witnessed its positive effects in action.
In our discussion, we talked about how it is easier to network when you feel that you have something to contribute. For example, I am sure that many students have been approached by family and friends about how to apply to university: you have done it, you can offer advice to someone who is about to take the same step. Most students are usually willing to provide advice and directions based on their experience, costing only your knowledge and time. Yes, this is networking, and you feel comfortable doing it since you have something to offer.

But when asking for things that are outside of your power to achieve—how do I get a job with your organization? Would you pass my resume on to your co-worker in HR?—students are more hesitant, or even refuse to ask for aid.

My usual response to this dilemma of when and how to network has been to look for what you can offer in this scenario so that you feel you have given something back to the person who has done you a favour. This is typical matcher I need this, but in return I can offer this.

I would like to suggest something else: Take it. Take the opportunity that is given and not worry about repayment. You do not have something of equal value, but they are willing to give, and you should see this opportunity as scarce and time sensitive, and just take it.

If this makes you uncomfortable, I would like you to consider several ideas that came to me while I was reading this book:
  •  Most givers accept thanks alone. Initially, if you use their offer wisely and don’t squander their generosity, they are willing to accept only gratitude, so don’t forget to express your thanks.
  • Givers also appear to be patient. They know that you are not in a position to pay them back—and you may never be able to—but they have enough experience to know that giving can lead to more opportunity.
  • You are actually being given to someone else. In this case, they have a friend who needs an employee with your skill set and they deliver you to their friend. You are incorrect when you assume you are the subject in the transaction, because you are really the object of the giver’s generosity. 
  • It is also not important that they personally triumph. Givers are happy when their ideas and aims win, or when their giving helps someone else. Grant has a few stories in the book where givers did not need personal acclaim, but were satisfied when the group won.

In the beginning of your professional life, you have not built up enough trust or knowledge in the workplace to offer something of immediate value or use to others, but you should take advantage of generosity, especially if you are willing to pay it forward to others, show gratitude and share acclaim when the time is right. 

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Why should you get LinkedIn?

Today's post is written by Christine Gertz, Library and Information Specialist at CAPS.

Writing for Marketing Education Review, two professors described an assignment that they gave to their marketing students, both graduate and undergraduate. For ten percent of their final mark, the students in two different semesters had to create a LinkedIn profile and interact on the site to satisfy the following conditions:

  • create an account on LinkedIn and add education, work history with some description of their job duties and requirements, and a photograph
  • make at least 20 connections and ten of those connections had to be with other professionals, not just with classmates
  • join at least five groups and interact five times by either posting a question or a response to a question in the groups that they had joined
  • both write and receive one recommendation on LinkedIn

The first two criteria are the basics that we look at when providing a LinkedIn Rapid Review, which are available during Professional U. Our review is also meant to prepare your profile so you can join our Career Networking group on LinkedIn, so it also partially satisfies the third requirement of this assignment. The review also explains how to get and give recommendations on LinkedIn, though we don’t include it in our assessment. We also have general advice on Using LinkedIn which would help you complete all of the necessary sections of your profile, find and join groups, make connections and secure recommendations.

As a result of the assignment, two of the students that completed a profile received job offers, two for each student that reported the result, from connections that they made on LinkedIn. Other students commented that the assignment made them aware of job postings on their groups that they wouldn’t have found otherwise, that the assignment gave them an incentive to complete a profile, that other professionals had stated that LinkedIn was important to the profession, and that they were able to interact with professionals outside of their peer group (p 19). Overall, it appears the assignment was a success and it had a high completion rate despite the fact that many of the students were starting from scratch, though the professors felt that the assignment could have been broken down into milestones to avoid students cramming the assignment in before the deadline. You can easily recreate this assignment on your own, following the professors’ advice of breaking down the task into smaller chunks with separate deadlines.

But not everybody was happy with the assignment: some students felt it was a waste of time and that they didn’t need another social media account (p 19). However, the evidence is clear, at least from recruiters that responded to Jobvite’s Social Recruiting Survey 2014, that employers are using LinkedIn to find candidates.

According to the Jobvite survey respondents, 95% search for candidates and contact them on LinkedIn, 93% keep tabs on potential candidates on LinkedIn and 92% post jobs on LinkedIn. Out of the 73% of respondents that used social media to actively recruit candidates, 79% had made a hire through LinkedIn, while 26% had made a hire through Facebook. In addition, 44% of recruiters that were using social media to recruit said that social media recruiting had improved the quality of the candidates that applied for opportunities. The survey respondents also said they were spending the same amount of money to post on job boards as they were to run a social recruitment campaign, and 73% were going to spend more money on social recruiting in the coming year. Ignoring LinkedIn means that you may be overlooking a source of job postings and networking opportunities that just aren’t made available when you rely exclusively on a traditional resume and job posting sites.

If you aren’t sure on how to get started making a LinkedIn profile, but you have completed a resume, you can use some of the content from your resume on your LinkedIn profile, and you can use our Using LinkedIn resources, as well as the LinkedIn and social media networking books we have in the centre. If you have a profile but want a second opinion, you can drop in for a Rapid LinkedIn Review during Professional U. If you need help before Professional U or you want to spend more time working one-on-one with someone on your profile, you can book a LinkedIn Consultation.


Jobvite Social Recruiting Survey 2014. This is an annual survey and this document is the most up-to-date at this time.
Peterson, R. M. & Dover, H. F. (2014). “Building student networks with LinkedIn: The potential for connections, internships and jobs”. Marketing Education Review 24.1, pp. 15-20.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Career Advice from the Pros: A How-to Guide for Arts Students

Today’s post was written by Nicole Hoffman, CAPS’ Communications Intern. Nicole is in her final year of her Bachelor of Arts Degree at the U of A.

Careers in the arts aren’t always straight-forward. Professionals in the arts tend to hold many positions before they find one that suits them, and many Arts students aren’t sure where they’ll end up after graduation. When faced with this uncertainty, it’s easy to get discouraged about one’s career prospects, which is why CAPS began hosting the Arts and Culture Career Crawl. The crawl was created to show U of A Arts students what careers in the arts look like, and to give them an opportunity to hear from professionals working in the arts. I had the opportunity to join this year’s crawl, during which 12 students and I visited Edmonton Public Library (Stanley Milner location), the Citadel Theater and the Winspear Centre. We also heard from Adam Rozenhart, digital strategist for Calder Bateman Communications, who talked with us about his career path. The people we met at these organizations had some great stories and advice to share with us. Here is what they had to say about putting your Arts degree to work:

Keep an open mind about your future career. Don’t limit yourself to one line of work; expand your ideas of your future career and be willing to step out of your comfort zone.

Adam Rozenhart, who graduated with a degree in Psychology has since embarked on a diverse career path which has included journalism, the creation of and most recently, designing promotions plans for other organizations. Adam’s advice? “Say yes to everything.” If you’re presented with an opportunity that excites you, give it a try. It might just lead you to your dream job.

Neil LaGrandeur, whose goal since moving to Edmonton was to work at the Citadel Theatre, says that you have to work your way up to get where you want. After several years working as an actor, Neil got a job working in the theatre’s box office. “You have to be willing to start anywhere and be patient,” says Neil. “You have to be willing to wear many hats… You have to work your way up.” Neil is now the House Manager at the Citadel Theatre, handling the theater’s media relations, talent scouting and program development, among many other things.

Alison Kenny-Gardhouse began her career singing in theatre and opera, became a voice coach and teacher, and ran her own consulting company for several years before transitioning into her current position as Director of Educational Outreach with the Winspear Centre.  She says that her career didn’t turn out as she had imagined it would:  “Thinking back to when I started this all 30 years ago, I don’t think that I would have ever predicted this pathway at all, and yet it was a really natural one for me, and I’ve had a really fabulous time.”

While the choices presented to you throughout your career may not be obvious ones, it is important to keep your ears and eyes open for something that catches your interest, or will open the door to the career you want.  

Be confident in your skills and your ability to learn on the job.

Sean Chinery started at Edmonton Public Library (EPL) doing cataloguing. He was accepted for the job despite having no cataloguing experience. His advice is, “If you don’t have the qualifications for the job, go for it anyways.” Convince an employer that you have the required soft skills and are willing to learn, and they will provide the technical training.

Meghan Unterschultz from the Winspear Centre agrees that the values, attitude and capability of applicants are their most valuable attributes. "A lot of the people that work here learn on the job,” says Meghan. “We want them for who they are."

Getting a job with an Arts degree is all about recognizing the skills you’ve honed in university and understanding how they will help you to perform well at work.

Get some work experience.

Karen Chidiak from EPL says that getting work experience while you’re in university can not only help you to make contacts; It can also help you to decide what you want to do after graduation. “Working and volunteering while you’re in school really gets your foot in the door. If you have something in mind in the industry you wish to work in, get that experience,” she says. “It will give you a perspective of the things you want to do once you graduate.”

Ken Davis from the Citadel Theatre says that donating some of your time to organizations in your area of interest is great for skill development. “I have made volunteerism a part of my career for forty years. I’m always volunteering at two or three different organizations over and above my work week,” Ken says. “I’m giving back from what I’m learning, but I’m also getting to practice what I know in different arenas. I’m getting to test my knowledge against a lot of different kinds of problems. That has incredible value back into your career.”

Work experience on your resume can put you ahead of competitors from an employer’s perspective, but more importantly, having that experience will give you new perspectives and skills that you can bring to the table in your next position.  

Build a network. Make professional connections that can give you leads into your next job.

Adam goes for the direct approach with networking, suggesting that if you meet someone who you think is interesting, you should approach them. Ask if you can buy them a coffee, and start a conversation about their work.

Ken says that the key to building a professional network hasn’t changed much in the last forty years: “Making sure that you are connecting with people in fields that you are interested in, building that body of people that are on your side and are willing to help advance you, and then making sure that when you are given an opportunity, you show up and give it absolutely everything you have.”

Actively seeking out new connections and following through on opportunities that they give you shows that you are dedicated and engaged in your career, and showing people that you are hardworking and enthusiastic in your work will gain you the appreciation and respect of your connections.

Follow your values and do what you love.

Holly Arnason from EPL started out with a degree in Political Science. "A lot of the reasons that I was passionate about political science - providing access to information and resources, supporting the public, and facilitating learning in a public space - are the same values that we support at EPL.” Holly now helps to facilitate the Makerspace in Stanley Milner Library, helping the Edmonton community bring their own ideas to life through technology.

Karen, a Senior Marketing Consultant with EPL, stresses that above all, it is important to follow your passion. “Look for jobs that will leverage your strengths. Match your core values in the jobs that you’re looking for. I love marketing, and I’m happy to be at EPL because it matches my core values as well. It’s not just about profit; it’s about impacting the daily lives of others and to me that’s more meaningful than getting another bonus.”

Having a job that pays well is great, but feeling like your work is important is more valuable to your happiness than a little extra on the paycheck. 

Find a mentor; someone who can give you advice and guidance.

Neil from the Citadel Theatre says that finding a mentor is often as easy as asking, and can be extremely rewarding. “I think something that is very important is finding those mentors that inspire you or have those positions that you want, and just reaching out. Ninety nine percent of the time those people are going to come back to you and be willing to help you out, answer your questions and give you feedback.”

Alison at the Winspear Centre says that oftentimes you’ll find a community rather than a single mentor. “I think everybody in the arts tends to mentor each other. We all have strengths that we can offer. I find a generous spirit in the arts community. We know we need each other, so we all help each other.”

Having a mentor to go to for advice will help you continue learning long after you graduate.

Being unsure about your career path won’t prevent you from having a successful and happy career. What’s important is that you follow your interests, continue learning, and pursue any opportunities you are given with dedication and passion. 

Monday, 24 November 2014

On the ground: Learning the reality of careers in law and enforcement

Today's post is by Kristen McArthur, who is an undergraduate student in the Faculty of Arts.

I cannot thank the staff at CAPS: Your U of A Career Centre enough for accepting my application to attend the Law & Enforcement Career Crawl on Monday, November 10, 2014. I have always had a keen interest in the legal system, and as a student studying outside of the Faculty of Law, there have been few opportunities for me to learn more about it.

The career crawl was extremely informative, not exclusively on an “informational level” per se; rather, I came to understand and have a greater appreciation for those in the field of justice, corrections, and enforcement. I came to realize how much these working professionals really love what they do, they have a passion for it and most of them had no idea they would follow such a career path. It was all happenstance* which was all the more inspiring.

As an Arts student I thought I would have to start all over if I wanted to pursue facets of the Canadian judicial system, but there are so many opportunities out there for me that I am now aware of thanks to the career crawl. I was given information on the job descriptions, requirements and recruitment processes of the Edmonton Police Service, probation officers, and corrections. I learned about the challenging and enthralling work involved in being either a defense lawyer or a crown prosecutor. Many of my misperceptions were corrected in terms of what you see in the media and what is reality for some of those involved in the criminal justice system—which was very enlightening for someone who is interested in the same field(s).

I learned about salary, expectations, requirements, and the wide variation of backgrounds from a sheriff to a probation officer. Most people “happened” upon a career in the legal system. For someone who pursued a BA in Psychology and Sociology, meeting professionals within the system possessing the same degree was extremely encouraging and reassuring that it is not too late for me, that I too can have a career in this field with or without a law degree.

I learned a little about the cultural aspects of the judicial system like the types of cultural sensitivity training police officers undergo and if you were an undercover officer, whether you would be matched based on ethnicity. I got to see a whole other side of corrections officers, who are really passionate about their work, and their efforts toward objectivity and safety (not just for themselves, but for the accused as well). All in all, I would rate this experience as a highlight in my academic career. It has helped shaped my perceptions and understandings about the various opportunities I have available to me, not only as a student but also as a citizen and human being. Wonderful experience, I would do it again, any day.

*Editor’s note:
The concept of happenstance in careers was reinforced by the speakers as they shared with participants their own career stories. Where they ended up had less to do with planning and more to do with their responses to both positive and negative chance events, or happenstance. The speakers’ stories demonstrated that to successfully manage your career it is important to remain flexible by actively exploring your many areas of interest and keeping your options open. It is important to say 'yes' to new opportunities even when you don’t know the outcome. It is also crucial to reflect on what you learn from engaging in new opportunities. The speakers’ career stories suggested that making plans is fine, but plans should be revised regularly to reflect new possibilities. You can find out more about CAPS’ approach to career management here.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Career advice for international students

Today's post was written by Nicole Hoffman, CAPS' Communications Intern.

In September, I attended a meeting of the International Student Advisory Council (ISAC), a student group created with the purpose of making sure that the concerns of international students are heard on campus. I wanted to know what sorts of challenges international students experience when looking for work in Canada. At the meeting, we discussed the concerns of international students. The following article outlines these concerns, and provides direction and resources for international students to help them overcome obstacles.

I’m worried that I won’t have enough relevant work experience when I graduate.

Part-time and summer work provides experience you can include on your resume, as well as helps you develop soft skills and build a professional network in Canada. There are several options for international students seeking work experience.

In 2014, the law was changed to make it easier for international students to work off-campus without a work permit. To find out if you are eligible, visit the Government of Canada website. CAPS online job postings can help you to find part-time and summer work before graduation, as well as work upon graduation. Jobkin, run by the U of A Students’ Union, is also a good source for job postings, particularly part-time campus jobs.

The International Student Work Study Program (ISWSP) is a program dedicated to helping undergraduate international students find on-campus summer work experience. Participating employers specifically hire international students, so you will be competing against students with similar experience.

It is also good to have some volunteer experience on your resume. It shows an employer that you are dedicated to pursuing your interests, and you may also find that it is easier to find volunteer work that is relevant to your interests and career aspirations. There are several volunteer opportunities that are conveniently located on campus, some of which only require an hour or two time commitment per week. To find out where you can volunteer on campus, visit the Student’s Union Volunteer Registry.

I don’t know if I have the soft skills that employers are looking for.

One great way to work on your soft skills, such as communication, leadership, problem solving and teamwork skills, is by getting involved with organizations on campus. Visit BearsDen to find student groups related to your interests. If you can’t find any, consider starting your own. Get involved with your faculty student association or the Students' Union by running for a student government position. Not only will you gain experience working with others, you’ll be able to put that experience on your resume to show employers the skills you have acquired during your studies.

There are also programs designed to help you develop these professional skills; for example:
Decide what skills you’d like to focus on, then do some research to find which program on campus can help you to develop them.

I haven’t had time to build a professional network in Canada.

It’s true that many positions are found through networking, and that networking is an important tool in the work-search process. It’s never too late to start building this network. Start by making contacts within your faculty. Get to know your professors. Participate in events on campus to meet other students. Attend Clubs Fair at the beginning of each semester to see if there are any on-campus groups that relate to your interests, and get involved.

Another great way to build your professional network is to attend conferences and like events related to the area you are interested in working in. They are a great way to meet people that are working in your industry. The connections you make could be invaluable to you as you search for work. If you find a conference that you’re interested in attending, be sure to check out the Green and Gold Student Leadership and Professional Development Grant and the Shell Enhanced Learning Fund (SELF) to see if you are eligible for financial support.

LinkedIn can be a great tool to stay in touch with contacts you’ve made, to build your career network and to keep up-to-date with what’s trending in the workplace. A strong LinkedIn profile can even help you catch the attention of employers and recruiters in your field. If you meet someone you’re interested in keeping in touch with, send them a follow up email and add them on LinkedIn to maintain a connection.

The hiring process in Canada is different from my home country, and I’m not sure how to prepare.

If you are unsure how to present yourself to an employer, CAPS offers resume reviews and mock interviews to prepare you for presenting yourself professionally, both on paper and in person. We also have several books in our Resource Centre that give tips on the interview process, how to write a resume, and more. You can interact face to face with employers at career fairs and student/employer mixers. For more information on these and other services, visit our website (

Find a mentor to give you advice. Choose someone you admire or someone who is in a position that you’d like to hold in the future. The CAPS Career Mentoring Program connects students with professionals to help them prepare for their entry into the workplace. Mentors can explain how they got to where they are, while encouraging and guiding you to achieving your career goals.

I’m worried that employers won’t want to hire me because I’m an international student.

One of the best things you can do to help you succeed in your work search is to recognize your own value. Show employers you are confident in your knowledge and abilities, and that you can contribute to their organization in a positive and impactful way. Zhaoyi, a member of ISAC explains how international students can make an extraordinary impact in the workplace. “International students were born and raised in different backgrounds, which means we experience things differently than (domestic Canadians)” says Zhaoyi. “We have different experiences and a different understanding of the world.” These different experiences have the potential to nurture growth, innovation and progress within an organization.

It is also important to keep in mind that everyone has the right to be treated fairly and be given an equal chance to be hired into a position. Discrimination based on race, cultural background, religious beliefs, ancestry, gender, disability or age is illegal under the Alberta Human Rights Act. If you feel that you are being discriminated against by an employer or in the workplace, contact the Alberta Human Rights Commission on their confidential inquiry line at 780-427-7661.

At CAPS, our approach is to encourage career engagement throughout your degree. This doesn’t mean that you need to know exactly where you want to work when you complete your degree, but it does require you to actively seek out experiences that will broaden your career options. The university has several programs and resources to help you. Take advantage of these opportunities learn more about the Canadian workplace, to show employers you are committed to your career, and to maximize your chance of success after graduation.

Special thanks to International Student Services (ISS) and the International Student Advisory Council (ISAC) for the guidance with this blog post. To learn how to apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN), get advice regarding immigration issues, participate in workshops that help with communication skills, connect with mentors who can help you navigate campus life and more visit 

Thursday, 30 October 2014


FURCA logoIf you haven't heard already, the Festival of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities - affectionately known as FURCA - starts on Monday, 3 November and runs to Friday, 14 November. One of the many exciting events planned is Tomorrows Ideas, Now: Hacking Social & Cultural Innovation. My first question when I heard about the plans for this event was, "How do you hack social and cultural innovation?" I had heard of hackathons before, but always in relation computer programming. I now know that the concept of bringing people together to collaborate in creating innovative solutions to problems or opportunities can be applied broadly.

In planning the hackathon, the fearless FURCA team sent out a call for challenges just waiting to be hacked. Responses included creating a campus to which international students feel welcome, combating cheating and plagiarism, promoting connections among U of A students and marginalized populations in our City in order to have an impact on social justice, and developing a social strategy to combat homonegative language on campus.

These and other challenges will be presented on the evening of Friday, 7 November after a keynote presentation by Rt. Hon. Kim Campbell titled "Students as Leaders for Social Change." Students will then have the opportunity to network and form interdisciplinary teams that will meet the following day to tackle the challenges. Facilitators will be there to work with teams and connect them to potential resources (e.g. funding, mentorship, courses) to support their project.

Why should you spend a Friday night and Saturday hacking social and cultural issues with my peers?

I can think of lots of reasons:
  • It's an opportunity to make a social contribution: Who knows what positive impact you and your peers might have on our campus and beyond?
  • You're bound to learn something: Who knows what interests might be sparked and where they might take you?
  • You'll will find out about resources available to you as a U of A student that perhaps you were unawares of: Who knows how you might access those resources in the future?
  • You'll meet new people: Who knows what those connections will lead to?
  • You'll be challenged to think outside of the box: Who doesn't love a challenge?
  • We will feed you: What student doesn't doesn't jump at the chance for free food?
  • You'll have fun! Need I say more?
If you're interested in taking part but feeling a bit nervous, here's are some general guidelines about what to expect:
  • It's OK to start simply.
  • No matter what you do, it cannot be all things to all people.
  • Experience matters as much as expertise. (Knowledge comes from many places, not just university).
  • Technology stunts participation -- face-to-face dialogue & interaction are encouraged.
  • Each person participates differently. Listening is itself a valuable form of participation.
  • Safe and inclusive spaces are created, not stated.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

One student's journey with undergraduate research

This week’s blog post comes from Bo Bao, a 3rd year Peer Undergraduate Research Liaison (PURL) with the Undergraduate Research Initiative. We asked him to reflect on his undergraduate research experiences and his work with URI.

Why did you get involved with URI?

I became involved with the URI in my first year of university back in 2012 because I wanted to inspire others to explore and discover the various learning opportunities offered through undergraduate research. Undergraduate research has benefited me personally because it has been integral in supporting and enhancing my academic learning experiences. I first got involved in mentored research with the Sanofi Aventis Biogenius Challenge (SABC) at the recommendation of my high school biology teacher. Getting started was extremely challenging. There were no resources available to advise me on how to approach a research professor and there was no database informing me of potential mentors interested in hiring a student. While I was fortunate to obtain a position, there were many other motivated and qualified students who were not given the opportunity to pursue research.

How did your involvement with URI & undergraduate research benefit you?

My participation in a mentored research project was significant because it invigorated my interest in sciences and it inspired me to pursue an undergraduate career in Honors Neurosciences program. The process of pursuing a research opportunity can be very challenging without a support network. This past summer, I once again got involved in undergraduate research with the assistance of URI. Through URI, I was able to connect with a research professor for a research position, get advice on funding resources available to support my research project, and I have an opportunity to present my research at the Undergraduate Research Symposium. During my research project, the whole process of designing a research plan, carrying out experimental work and analyzing data encourages collaborative problem solving and facilitates an interactive learning environment. I learned to collaborate with an interdisciplinary team of professionals, critically solve problems and conduct myself professionally.

How has URI changed since you got involved?

As one of the first group of student to volunteer with URI, a “first generation PURL”, I have grown alongside URI, witnessing the expansion and the impact that URI has made within the community. The expansion of Undergraduate Research Symposium into Festival of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (FURCA) reflects the growing culture of undergraduate research and creative activities here at the University of Alberta. FURCA provides undergraduate students the opportunity to engage in cutting edge research and put their curiosity to work through programs such as the Research Crawls, the Undergraduate Research Symposium and the Undergraduate Research Resource Fair.

How can other students get started in undergraduate research?

I encourage you to check out URI’s events calendar (we’re having a session about getting started in research on November 18th), the Undergraduate Research Portal on eClass, or visit URI for advice. You can meet with the URI staff or one of the PURLs to find out about resources available to support your project, such as the URI Undergraduate Researcher Stipend.

This year FURCA will be supported by our crowdfunding campaign on the USEED platform so that that whole community can be involved in our celebration of undergraduate research. To support and be a part of the growing culture of undergraduate research, I encourage everyone to check out our campaign page and help us by contributing to the campaign or sharing it with your friends!