Tuesday, August 7th, 2018...5:59 pm

Getting Involved as a Graduate Student: 3 Things I’ve Learned

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Guest Blogger: Sarah Dolman

When I started out as a grad student at U of T, I was eager to find opportunities to get involved. Now, one year into my program, I’ve learned quite a few things about what it means to be involved as a graduate student! In this blog post, I’ll share some of the highlights of my experiences getting involved.

But first, let me introduce myself! My name is Sarah and I am the current Gradlife Intern. I am also a Master of Education student, studying Higher Education Student Development and Student Services. I did my first year full-time, and now I’m in my second year studying part-time while working full-time with Student Life!

Now, without further ado, here are the top 3 lessons I’ve learned about getting involved as a grad student:

  1. Make connections

I didn’t know anyone coming into my program at U of T—so, when I heard about the student association for my program, the Student Affairs Society (SAS), I decided to stop by the first open meeting! I’m so glad I did, because joining SAS meant that I would make some amazing connections with like-minded peers both in my program and working in my field. Not only have my fellow SAS members become great friends (below is a photo of some of us!)—they have also been immensely valuable as supports while I navigate being a new professional.

  1. Grow your skills

Are there any particular skills you want to develop as a grad student? For me, I wanted to get more experience planning events and managing social media. So, I looked for on-campus roles that would allow me to grow these skills: I applied to, and ended up becoming, the event coordinator for SAS and the social media coordinator for Grad Minds! Both of these were great opportunities to not only get more confident in some key skills, but also to add as experience on my resume.

  1. Know your limits

If you’re eager like me, it’s easy to want to say “yes” to all the amazing opportunities that come up. That said, we’re busy grad students and we often have a myriad of responsibilities (academic and otherwise!) that take up much of our time. So, this is my permission to you: If something comes up that you might want to do, but you feel would be too much, it’s OK to say no! Many organizations are flexible and have room for people who can only contribute a little bit, too—ask and find out!

Overall, when thinking about getting involved, my biggest piece of advice would be this: Make it intentional! Whether the purpose is to make connections, build some skills, or just have fun, think about why you want to get involved—this will help you both choose what to do, and it will help you make the most of your experience.

Looking to get involved but not sure where to go? Gradlife has a number of opportunities—check out our website here!

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