What are your main responsibilities or activities in your current position?
As a PhD candidate, my main responsibility is to complete my thesis. But I have also been working at a teaching assistant, which led to a sessional lecturing position and working as a supervisor for masters students.
How does your current work relate to your graduate degree?
My graduate degree at UBC was in urban planning. After graduating, I worked as a planner for three years before starting my PhD in planning. So my masters helped me find work in my field, but also allowed me to continue my studies. One thing about my graduate degree that certainly helped me get into my PhD program was that I had the option to do either a research thesis or a professional project. Being able to opt out of some course work to do a thesis meant I was prepared for both work as a planner and future academic pursuits.
Is your current career path as you originally intended?
When I started my undergrad degree (also at UBC), I had no idea what my career path would be. I went to university to find my passion. I surreptitiously found planning. As a graduate student at the School of Community and Regional Planning, I found I had an interest in research and policy. I'm still on the path to my career, but doing a PhD has definitely supported my goals.
What motivated you to pursue graduate work at UBC?
I felt that near the end of my undergrad, I wasn't finished with academic/institutional learning. Plus, my degree wasn't exactly 'job ready' material. So grad school seemed like a good plan. I stayed at UBC and studied planning because of one of my professors (Alison Bailey). She advised me to look into studying planning at UBC, and the rest is history.
What key things did you do, or what attitudes or approaches did you have, that contributed to your success?
When doors opened for me, I took the opportunities. I conducted fieldwork in Indonesia, I worked as a teaching assistant in Singapore, I organized and participated in conferences and workshops, and made connections within my faculty, across the university, and with people in my field elsewhere. You have to balance making plans and saying yes.
What is your best piece of advice for current graduate students preparing for their future careers?
It's important to develop connections and networks within your program, the university at large, as well as outside the university within your field. People can help you if they remember who you are. Whatever you want to do after you graduate, try and get some direct experience; think about teaching, doing an internship, consulting, going to conferences, etc.
How did you find out about/obtain your current position?
During my masters, I was often asked if I would go on to do a PhD, so the seed was planted then. Although, thankfully, my committee advised that I work for a few years before going back to school. When I was ready for a PhD, I began looking at different schools and professors, as well as asking people for advice. In the end, I applied to the University of Melbourne and was offered a full scholarship to attend.
How are jobs normally posted and filled in your organization or industry?
For PhDs, either you apply directly to a school, or specific positions are sometimes posted to support larger research projects.