Michael Donaldson

Canadian Science Publishing
Content Development Manager
Ottawa, Canada
Pacific Salmon Migration Biology
Scott Hinch

What are your main responsibilities or activities in your current position?

I manage one employee, manage sponsorships, manage partner societies and work with editors to implement strategic plans and promote journals.

How does your current work relate to your graduate degree?

As a scholarly publisher, the experience I received as a graduate student writing papers and interacting with editors and reviewers has been highly advantageous for my current position. Interacting with academics and professional societies is a key part of my position, so my grad experience really enables me to connect well with these groups and individuals.

What do you like and what do you find challenging about your current position?

Giving back to the research community by providing sponsorships to societies and conferences.

Is your current career path as you originally intended?

No, my original intention was to do research and pursue an academic path.

What motivated you to pursue graduate work at UBC?

My MSc project was based in the lower Fraser valley, so I was able to get a funded PhD position to work with my supervisor at UBC, expanding on my earlier research.

What did you enjoy the most about your time as a graduate student at UBC?

UBC has a well-deserved reputation and is located in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I really enjoyed my time working with great people at such a fantastic university.

What key things did you do, or what attitudes or approaches did you have, that contributed to your success?

Positive attitude, all the time - say yes to every opportunity - work hard and play hard - try not to get too bogged down with the stress and grind of grad work - if you run into trouble, get help. If you want to be a researcher - then publish, publish, publish!

What is your best piece of advice for current graduate students preparing for their future careers?

When it comes to the job market, expect the unexpected. Few graduates, even those who truly excelled at their studies (have a tonne of papers, diverse research experience, large collaborative networks) land their dream job. My advice is to apply for everything, including jobs that fall outside your intended career path. Very few graduates/post-docs land faculty positions these days, so there is a need to keep an open mind and look for unexpected opportunities.

What challenges did you face in your graduate degree, or in launching your career?

To be honest, my entire degree went fairly smoothly and I had very few hiccups, so I can't complain. However, despite my successes, there was a period towards the end of my PhD where I began to fall into a deep depression and became overwhelmed by anxiety. It was a period that lasted for the final two years of my PhD and persisted even through my post-doc. In fact, it still rears its ugly head from time to time. Prior to that period, I had never experienced those feelings of depression and anxiety. I did everything wrong and did not seek help, but I should have. I've managed to work through it and move on and I'm in a much better headspace these days - but I would encourage everyone to be aware of the signs in themselves and their colleagues and to utilize the great resources that the university offers. Getting help before you get too bogged down in that frame of mind is key.


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