May 20th, 2015
By guest blogger Crystal Chin (Masters in Health Informatics, Information recent graduate and former gradlife blogger)
In less than two months, I convocate. After 6 years, I can finally say I am a proud U of T graduate. A couple weeks ago, Jennifer, our lovely Gradlife program coordinator, reached out to me and asked me to blog for the last time as a grad student. She asked me to talk about things I wish I knew as a student.
And boy, were there things I wish I knew. For example…
1. Take this time to socialize with other grad students.
During my degree, I always found myself surrounded by my classmates. My program is structured so that I only spend time with them, despite efforts to have us mingle with other students. As much as I loved spending time with them, I couldn’t help but feel isolated from the rest of the campus. If I could go back in time, I would go to more Grad Talks, maybe joined a club, or even go to my program’s student union socials.
The point is, right now we belong in a huge network of the brightest minds at U of T. After we graduate, we may never be in such a network again. Lets pick each other’s brains while we can and have some fun while doing it!
2. Take advantage of your UTGSU health and dental coverage.
Let’s face it. Healthcare and dental are expensive. Even though our healthcare system covers primary care and hospital services, we may require the expertise of other healthcare professionals. The costs of visiting a physiotherapist or getting a vaccine can add up quickly.
That’s where the UTGSU health and dental coverage plan comes in. Thanks to that plan, I was able to see the dentist without breaking my bank. I was also told that the plan covers 80% of the cost for the HPV vaccine. That’s 80% off of $450, the amount it costs to get all three doses of the vaccine. That means you save $360. Sounds crazy, right?
3. There’s life beyond grad school, and it’s good to be prepared.
I recently learned about the Mitacs Accelerate program, which connects grad students with employers in the private sector for internships. In these internships, grad students will be able to apply their research and specialized know-how, all while gaining work experience in the industry. Having these and experiences, talking to people you admire in your field, and thinking about what comes after grad school is a great exercise.
It’s scary wondering what will happen after it’s all over. I finished my classes in December, and was lucky to find a job in my field very soon after. But before I started, I remember feeling this immense sense of uncertainty and apprehension. It was unpleasant and uncomfortable. Preparing for that, and scoping the field, can help ease the transition.
And that ends it. My last blog as a student. I hope that your grad experience was as fulfilling and satisfying as mine. Good luck, and good bye!