Career Symposium

About the Invest in Your Future Career Symposium 2022

Brought to you by the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research (FGSR) is a week of sessions to inspire, motivate, and give you tools to continue your life goals and career exploration.

Registration for all sessions will be in campusBRIDGE and with the permission of your faculty/department, sessions can be counted towards professional development credit. Events are free and open to anyone on campus.


Monday, November 7, 2022

Session 1: Writing Cover Letters With Confidence (1 Hour PD Credit) | 1:00 - 2:00 p.m. MT | Register here | Zoom link

The cover letter is an extremely important, yet often overlooked part of your job application. It is your first – and possibly, only opportunity to engage a prospective employer. It is a key marketing tool to convince the employer to take the time to look at your resume. Think of it as “bait” that you are using to “hook” the reader. A cover letter should add nuance to your C.V. by highlighting specific abilities, experiences and talents that make you an ideal candidate for the job. It is also an opportunity for you to demonstrate your ability to write, communicate and articulate your ideas effectively. A good cover letter will show the employer why he/she would benefit from hiring you. This session introduces an easy yet effective method for graduate students to create and tailor “cover letters” for each job application and ensure career growth in today’s challenging market.


Dr. Don Back is a former academic (Queens University), company founder, teacher, coach, managing director of venture capital funds, researcher, project manager,and more. Through these many other roles he has developed a strong sense of what hiring managers look for in new employees.  He has sat on both sides of the table and has a keen awareness of how a graduate program builds skills beyond what is needed to complete a capstone or thesis.

Session 2: Internships as a Job Search Strategy in Canada (1.5 Hours PD Credit)| 2:30 - 4:00 p.m. MT | Register here | Zoom link

From paying off student debt to making extra income or gaining critical Canadian job experience - there may be many reasons to pursue employment during your graduate studies. One exceptionally effective way to get your leg in the door and stand out from the crowd is to do an internship - even when it appears an organization is not looking to hire someone. In this session, participants will hear how to secure an internship during student life and how it benefits the employer, from the perspective of a thesis-based graduate student who is also currently working part-time, a Graduate Internship Advisor, and a federally-funded internship program representative.


Dr. Eric Loo is the Director of Business Development and Team Lead of the Prairies division of Mitacs. He has nearly 10 years of experience working with private sector businesses and building collaborations with postsecondary partners. During his graduate studies, he volunteered as the Site Coordinator for Let's Talk Science and developed numerous relationships with faculty and staff.  He has a keen understanding of the challenges of graduate life and creating a clear career path. 

Andrea Spevak is the Internship Advisor for the Graduate Student Internship Program.  She was first on the ground to get GSIP growing and has helped nearly 800 UAlberta grad students from all disciplines since 2016.  Andrea works with a variety of companies and organizations, from government to industry to not-for-profit, and has a diverse background across many sectors, including Research Manager, Entrepreneur, Program Coordinator with the Federal government, and ESL instructor.  Andrea has a good sense of the challenges that people with postgraduate degrees face when searching for employment. 

Iraban Turjo is a second year Master of Science in Engineering Management student at the University of Alberta. Hailing from Bangladesh, Iraban completed his undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering, where his research was focused on creating a cheaper Brain-Machine Interface (BMI)-controlled Robotic Arm for amputees. He then went on to work for several Fortune 500 companies, where he assisted in  implementing automation solutions. Iraban's current research at the UofA spans robotics, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, and reliability. He also works for the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research (FGSR), and had previously worked for Zero Point Cryogenics - an Edmonton based startup - as an intern.

Tuesday, November 08, 2022

Session 3: How to Identify Your Most Marketable Skills (1.25 Hours PD Credit)
| 1:00 - 2:15 p.m. MT | Register here | Zoom link

After completing a graduate degree, your next job will likely ask you to share your experience in leadership, management, and supervision. What is the difference between them? In this session you will start to recognize what sets the three organizational roles of Leader, Manager, and Supervisor apart from each other. Attendees will be asked to answer questions, finding the answer to each that best represents Leadership, Management, and Supervision. You will have an opportunity to think about how you can develop some of these skills now. Bring your energy and enthusiasm and be ready to ask the questions you have about how to lead to this amazing presenter.

Presenter: Richard Field, PhD Interim Director, Peter Lougheed Leadership College

Dr Richard Field has been publishing in the domain of management and leadership for 30 years. He teaches in the MBA program on Leadership Skills, Business Ethics, and Managing Human Resources as well as does workshops for the Peter Lougheed Leadership College. He is the recipient of several teaching awards including the Donald and Margaret MacKenzie Distinguished Teaching Award. Dr. Field is also a recipient of the McCalla Professorship, recognizing significant contributions to the integration of teaching and research, and educational leadership.

Session 4: Enhance Your Juggling Skills 2:30 – 3:30 p.m. MT | Register here | Zoom link

Did you find yourself wondering where the time goes? Do you struggle to get projects done on time?  Time management is about more than just scheduling.  In this session we will talk about challenges before tackling a project and how they can sabotage your plans, as well as some basic time management tips to enhance your scheduling. If you are using some great tools, I would love to hear about them too. 


Dr. Renee Polziehn is the Professional Development Director for the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research. Following 20+ years developing the Community Volunteer Program, the Graduate Teaching and Learning Program, and professional development programming for the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research and the Postdoctoral Fellows Office, the initiator of the Career Action series, she has heard many of the challenges faced by graduate students and postdoctoral fellows as they transition from their graduate degrees back to the workplace. She has also met with many employers, career coaches, HR specialists, and has experience from an employer's perspective in what can help graduate students.

Wednesday, November 9, 2022


Session 5: Magic of Reference Letters - Held in conjunction with the FEGRS (1 Hour PD Credit) | 1:30 - 2:30 p.m. MT | Register here | Zoom link

Face Renee Polziehn

Description: At some point, we all need reference letters - whether for employment purposes, fellowships, or scholarships. The magic behind crafting great letters comes from knowing the candidate and understanding the criteria of how candidates will be judged. Join this session to get an idea of how you can prepare your referees to write better letters or how you can best deliver on a reference in a North American context. 


Dr. Renee Polziehn is the Professional Development Director for the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research. Following 20+ years developing the Community Volunteer Program, the Graduate Teaching and Learning Program, and professional development programming for the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research and the Postdoctoral Fellows Office, the initiator of the Career Action series, she has heard many of the challenges faced by graduate students and postdoctoral fellows as they transition from their graduate degrees back to the workplace. She has also met with many employers, career coaches, HR specialists, and has experience from an employer's perspective in what can help graduate students.

Session 6: Understanding your Values to Understand your Career Journey (1 Hour PD Credit) | 2:45 - 3:45 p.m. MT | Register here | Zoom link

Charity Slobod

Do you ever pause, ponder, and ask yourself "why am I motivated to do the things I do?" "What do I gain from my professional actions and where do I see them taking me?" You may already know your values, but may not understand where they came from - or otherwise - their roots. In this session, we will investigate and build up your understanding of your values to help you sharpen your future career goals.

Charity Slobod
 is the Community Volunteer Lead and Professional Development Coordinator for the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research (FGSR). For more than ten years, she has worked in the field of community outreach and engagement with a particular focus on supporting graduate students in developing effective strategies for sharing their research with non-specialist audiences through initiates such as the Three Minute Thesis (3MT), Images of Research and On the Edge: EPL Speaker Series. She also co-facilitates the Community Engagement Foundations Course. back to the workplace.  She has also met with many employers, career coaches, HR specialists, and has experience from an employer’s perspective in what can help graduate students.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Session 7: Meaningful Networking for Lifelong Connections (1 Hour PD Credit) | 12:00 - 1:00 p.m. MT | Register here | Zoom link

panel of 3

New students and postdocs to Canada can often be unfamiliar with the importance of networking in advancing their career, as well as with networking strategies that work, not just for getting more job prospects, but for establishing lifelong connections that can help them in many avenues of life. This session brings together a panel of experts who talk about why networking is so important, effective networking strategies, and provides a framework for not just forming but maintaining meaningful connections.

Tyree McCrackin, Transition to Career Program Lead, works directly with graduate students and postdoctoral fellows at the University of Alberta's Career Centre. Before coming to the University of Alberta, Tyree worked in human resources in various oil and gas related industries. His first role was with the University of Alberta's Graduate Student Internship Program (GSIP) Career Advisor responsible for supporting GSIP applicants and interns. He now works as a career advisor, helping current graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and alumni with work search documents, interview preparation, and career management strategies. Tyree has a BA and BEd, and will convocate in November with a MA from the U of A.

Dinu Philip Alex is the Founder and Chief Disrupter with Next Evolution Ventures, a social enterprise focused on building solutions in the areas of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion with the intent of building better organizations and communities. He is also the Operations & Special Projects Manager with the Edmonton Downtown Business Association to help build a socially inclusive and vibrant downtown. He is a certified disruptive strategist motivated by breaking the system for the greater good and has a background of implementing change at a root level and creating an atmosphere of cultivating and transforming ideas into viable solutions that create efficiencies, challenge the norm, and prepare for the future. He has a Bachelor's degree in Architecture from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur and a Master's degree in Construction Engineering and Management from the University of Alberta.

Jay Friesen is a Partnership Coordinator and Instructor in Community Service-Learning, teaching classes on community engagement. He has always been motivated by meeting new people, collaborating with communities, and following his curiosity. Most often, you can find Jay in spaces where he can learn with others, which presently includes teaching Introduction to Community Engagement (CSL 100) and collaborating with The Learning Centre on Edmonton's ongoing adult literacy needs assessment. Jay has his PhD from the University of Alberta in Modern Languages and Cultural Studies, and has been named one of the university's "Cool Courses" by Maclean's Magazine.

Session 8: Failing Forward - Finding value when research fails (1.5 Hours PD Credit) | 1:30 - 3:00 p.m. MT | Register here | Zoom link

 panel of 4 people

Why do so many of us cringe when we even hear the word "Fail"? How do we move ourselves and others beyond this reaction to see how it can be an asset? At its worst, "failure" can impact mental wellness, a major area of concern for graduate students and postdoctoral scholars.  This is further exacerbated when research hits a dead end, is accompanied with excessive criticism, or the connection of research objectives to life and career goals seems shattered. At its best, "failure" can serve as a motivator, a place of reflection and learning, a time of heightened creativity and problem solving.  This session aims to help graduate students and postdocs find ways to better deal with research anxiety, burnout and depression - especially when their research hits a roadblock or worse - and how they can turn it into something more positive and motivating.  Attendees will gain valuable knowledge about 1) adaptation strategies to stress and burnout that worked for a former PhD student, 2) perspectives that can reframe failure from a Professor/Thesis Supervisor, a psychologist, and an Associate Dean, and 3) forms of help that are available.


Jason Murray
 is a psychologist and the Director of Counselling and Clinical Services at the University of Alberta. He has worked at the University of Alberta, in various roles helping students with mental health and wellness, for over 17 years. Before that he worked in mental health community clinics and agencies, and spent 16 years as a cook and server too!  As someone with as many (or more) failures and slip-ups as successes, he's long encouraged folks to spend more time being a learner than just trying to be "successful" or "the best" at anything.

Dr. Frank Robinson is a Professor Emeritus in the Faculty of Agriculture, Life and Environmental Sciences. He is also a former Vice Provost and Dean of Students and Associate Dean (Faculty of ALES). He was inducted into the Alberta Agriculture Hall of Fame (2006), was awarded a 3M National Teaching Fellowship (2007) and is a Fellow of the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (2007) and the Poultry Science. He has supervised numerous students, and has always tried to find better ways for students and postdocs to habituate themselves with the stresses of research and university life.

Dr. Micah True 
is an Associate Dean at the Faculty of Graduate Studies & Research as well as an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Arts. Prior to coming to the University of Alberta, he taught briefly at Tulane University in New Orleans and at Duke University in North Carolina, where he completed his PhD. As an Associate Dean at the Faculty of Graduate Studies & Research, he has helped numerous graduate students to learn about the many forms of help that are available to them for coping with research and graduate school difficulties.

Dr. Katherine Bishop
 is a staff archaeologist for TMHC and completed her PhD in Anthropology from the University of Alberta. Her doctoral research focused on shepherding in ancient Greece, and this fascination with goat management motivated her to get involved in Edmonton's GoatWorks project. Katherine is a forensic anthropologist and archaeologist who has worked with human and animal bones in Ontario, Italy, Peru, Greece, and Alberta. Katherine was featured in the UofA Grad School Confidential podcast episode Hitting the Wall: On Burnout in Grad School.


Rapid Reviews - Wednesday November 16 - 1:00 to 3:00pm

If you are a current graduate student (Master or PhD) or PDF, connect with us for a 15-minute review of your resume, CV, or LinkedIn profile.


  1. Go to campusBRIDGE and log in. 
  2. Undergraduate & Graduate students click on "Student" / Postdoctoral fellows can click on "U of A Staff"
  3. Along the side navigation menu, click on Career Centre Appointments.
  4. Click on Book by Appointment Type to find the relevant appointment.
  5. Click Book under the appointment type. All available appointment times will show up on the far right.
  6. Select a time and date and complete the intake form and click Book Appointment.

Watch this short instructional video on how to book a Rapid Review through campusBRIDGE.