Career Development Symposium

The Career Development Symposium will take place May 21st – 22nd 2014, Life Science Building, Rooms 105 & 106, York University. It is an opportunity for science and engineering graduate students to network with professionals in academia, industry and government, as well as to learn and build critical skills, through panels of experts and engaging workshops, necessary for success in their future career ambitions.

See below for detailed descriptions about our events!
Questions? Feel free to e-mail

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Career Development Symposium

Event Details

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

Oral Communications in a Career Context Panel

Key Outcomes

1)      Recognize the value of having effective oral communication skills for communicating with specialist scientific audiences to non-specialist audiences and everything in between;
2)      Develop effective strategies and techniques that will help articulate a message and tailor it for a specific audience;
3)      Develop (improve) the ability to translate key knowledge and skills in a career or business setting (e.g., elevator pitch, self-branding, etc.)

Discussion Highlights

·        What is the importance of your communication skills and how do you apply specific skills in your career/role?
·       What are the general categories of audience (e.g., specialist, public) and what are the major differences in communication strategies between them?
·       How important is knowing your audience and tailoring your talk accordingly? How is this achieved?

Career or Funding Skills

·        How to “sell” yourself (skills, ideas and research) during an employment interview.
·        Essential components of a “pitch” to project investors (including key vocabulary).
·        Transferrable skills that science and engineering grads have that are valued by employers (e.g. data management, analytical skills).  How do you identify your unique set of skills?
·        Importance of a “self-brand” and how to develop it (e.g., LinkedIn).
·        Importance of social media in developing your career.


Dr. Jeff Brook (Environment Canada)
Dr. Richard Cheung (
Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP)
Kristina Delidjakova (Toronto and Region Conservation Authority)
Dr. Nana Lee (University of Toronto)
Dr. Peter Pekos (Dalton Pharma Services)
Carolyn Steele (York University)

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

Oral Communications Workshop: Clear Language and Presentation

Michael Johnny, Manager, Knowledge Mobilization Unit, York University

Participants will emerge as better communicators for their intended audiences

In this workshop students will:

  • Learn the theory of clear language and design, including six fundamental principles
  • Practice clear language techniques
  • Acquire skills to enable you to share your research orally from academic research outputs


As part of the Write for the Reader Series which focuses on clear language principles in written and oral forms of communication, this workshop introduces the principles and techniques of clear language and presentation. It shows participants how to apply clear language for diverse audiences using a range of communication tools.

The oral communications workshop will draw from principles from the ResearchSnapshot session, which addresses ways for researchers to turn academic research into clear language summaries. Research summaries are valuable tools that enable wider communication to audiences who would benefit from the key knowledge contained in the original research.  In the context of oral communications, objectives of clarity, comprehension and audience-centred communications are critical.

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

Time Management & Life Balance Workshop: Project Managing your Graduate Experience

Dr. Cathy Boyd-Withers, Learning Skills Counselor at York University


Do you feel as if there’s never enough time to accomplish what you need to, as a grad student? Are you daunted by all the work required to complete your thesis or dissertation, and wondering how/if you’ll ever get it all done? This session will introduce core principles from the fields of  Time Management and Project Management and show how to apply them to foster your productivity, effectiveness and efficiency as a graduate student of Science & Engineering.

Workshop Highlights

–     Practicalities of scheduling in order to balance research, TAing, coursework while developing a broad C.V. (mentorship, leadership, volunteerism) and your non-academic skills while maintaining good mental health
–    Principles of “Project Management” and applications to managing your graduate school experience
–    How to find a life/work balance (integrating family commitments)

 Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

Effective Proposal Writing for Scientists Panel

Key Outcomes

1)      Improve techniques for effective academic communications (e.g., grants, scholarships, papers);
2)      Develop strategies to improve written job application skills;
3)      Enhance ability to convey ideas in clear, concise and compelling language when writing reports or emails.

Discussion Highlights

·        What characteristics set apart the best applications?
·        What are the most common stumbling blocks?
·        What is a good formula (mechanics & logistics)?
·        What differentiates a resume from a C.V.?
·        What kind of language improves the success of a proposal in a business context?


Dr. Dawn Bazely (IRIS, York University)
Dr. Laurence Harris (York University)
Christine Macdonald (MITACS)
Dr. Mazen Hamadeh (York University)

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

Effective Proposal Writing for Scientists Workshop

Dr. Dawn Bazely, Institute for Research and Innovation in Sustainability (IRIS), York University

Workshop Summary

In STEM subjects, one of the main things that your supervisor must successfully do, in order to be able to take on and support graduate students, is to get funding. This cycle, also known as publish or perish, involves publishing peer-reviewed articles and writing grant applications (lots of them).

Essential skills that underscore success, include the ability to write clearly and concisely, as well as to clearly explain research goals, objectives and hypotheses. The system that many of your have experienced with receiving graded undergraduate essays and lab reports will only get you so far in developing these skills.

Please be honest – how often did you receive detailed feedback on your writing, and how often did you read and respond to it in your next assignment? With any luck, you had some experience in collaborative, iterative writing as an undergraduate, but graduate school puts you on the road of learning how to write really well. Writing your thesis or dissertation uses the same skills.

Many grad students get to the end of their research and find that writing their thesis or dissertation becomes a nightmare, because they are unprepared to receive critical feedback on their writing. They also often find that pulling their research together into a coherent thesis is overwhelming: “analysis paralysis”. The good news is, that there are many ways to overcome it!

This workshop will give you tools to write a clear grant or scholarship application.

We will also use the NSERC Discovery Grant application template to write a proposal and budget for your MSc or PhD research. There will be a mini review process that will help to take feedback in a constructive way.

Academics are constantly called upon to act as peer reviewers and it’s hard work. Plus, we professors, just love and EXPECT to produce NUMEROUS drafts of our research proposals and manuscripts. We are DELIGHTED to receive feedback from anyone that we can get to read and comment on our writing because it will be vastly improved. This workshop will get you into this head space…

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

This is my time Workshop: Time management strategies for teaching assistants
Jennifer Bolt, PhD Candidate in Education, York University, and David Cappadocia, PhD Candidate in Kinesiology & Health Science, York University.

Workshop Highlights

  • This interdisciplinary session will explore time management as an effective tool for designing highly effective labs and tutorials that promote student engagement, persistence and motivation.
  • Concrete ways for TAs to balance their multiple responsibilities inside and outside the classroom will be explored.
  • Through collaborative problem solving activities, workshop participants will have the opportunity to address their own challenges around time management.

Participants will receive management references/resources for on-going support and guidance.

Funding for this Program is Provided by NSERC.