You’ll never walk alone: Valuable resources for graduate students at McGill

One aspect of our graduate student life at McGill that truly stands out as exemplary to me is the sheer number of resources in place to buttress our burgeoning professional careers. I am amazed that, even as a senior PhD student, I am constantly finding out about organizations, workshops and tools that I did not know of the year before. We are blessed to have such an incredible framework of support at our university, and to have a wealth of information and support right at our fingertips. I’ve compiled a list of valuable resources for students who currently are or soon will be enrolled in a graduate program at McGill. In here is basic information I found out about when I first arrived, as well as information I found out about just last week! I hope that many of you will benefit from this information and will know where to turn when in need of more.

1. Graduate and post-doctoral studies: http://www.mcgill.ca/gps/

The starting point for any graduate student or post-doc new to McGill. As soon as you can, familiarize yourself with this website, as it houses essential information relevant for your academic path, from your first registration until graduation!

2. SKILLSETS: http://www.mcgill.ca/skillsets/

SKILLSETS is learning program jointly sponsored by GPS and Teaching and Learning Services. Its goal is to promote the learning of valuable skills for both professional and personal development. SKILLSETS offers hundreds of interdisciplinary workshops throughout the academic year (they are amazing and amazingly FREE!). The workshops cover a range of topics that fit several “professional development themes” central to our lives as PhDs and post-docs, such as: career development, communication skills, integrity and ethical conduct, critical and creative thinking, leadership, teaching competence, etc. Importantly, not all topics are academic and several workshops are tailored to general life skills and work-life balance.

You already get SKILLSETS emails delivered to your McGill inbox, so open them and have a look at their calendar .

Their website also shares a number of extra documents and resources.

3. Career Planning Service (CaPS): http://www.mcgill.ca/caps/

CaPS’ mission is to “assist students in their career development and search for permanent, part-time, and summer jobs, as well as internships, by providing workshops, individual advising, a comprehensive job posting service, and an extensive Career Resource Centre.”

CaPs also offers workshops.

Other services include:

4. Graphos and the McGill Writing Centre: http://www.mcgill.ca/graphos/home-page

Graphos is a new initiative of the McGill Writing Centre (in partnership with Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies and Teaching and Learning Services) and offers help for perhaps THE most crucial aspect of our academic lives: WRITING!

Graphos offers:

To register: http://www.mcgill.ca/mwc/tutorial-service/appointments#registration

In addition, check out MWC specialized courses.

5. PGSS Student Society: https://pgss.mcgill.ca/en/home

Here’s the thing: There’s more to PGSS than Thomson House! A lot of this information was news to me when I was compiling this list, so I am sure you can benefit from some of this as well.

Did you know that PGSS offers:

For full list of services, check out: https://pgss.mcgill.ca/en/services

6. Health

Nothing – nothing – is more important than your mental and physical health. If you are not feeling well, how are you supposed to conquer the world? Please make it a priority throughout your graduate careers to be conscious of your well-being and to turn to these places and people if the going gets rough.

7. Teaching and Learning Services:  http://www.mcgill.ca/tls/

TLS is committed to teaching excellence, and to promoting effective teaching. They also have a series of workshops on fascinating topics, such as understanding discrimination, grading assignments, using social media tools in teaching, etc. See the calendar and register!

There are also a number of resources available for teachers on their website.

8. Academic Advising: http://www.mcgill.ca/students/advising/

Need some guidance? Browse their FaQs or ask a question of your own with the “Ask an Advisor Now!” option

9. Legal advice

McGill has its own legal clinic and while there are probably certain types of law they cannot advise you on, when in doubt, have a look whether they could help.

10. McGill Office of the Ombudsperson: http://www.mcgill.ca/ombudsperson/

The McGill Office of the Ombudsperson is there for you if ever you need to resolve serious disputes. The Office offers “confidential, informal, independent, and impartial dispute resolution services … by providing information, advice, intervention and referrals”.

Remember, though, that there is a proper channel to go through and strategies you must try first before resorting to the Office of the Ombudsperson. For information on resolving disputes and what to do, check here.

When all else fails and you need to reach the Ombudsperson, this is where and how you reach him: http://www.mcgill.ca/ombudsperson/contact

11. Support for International Students

In my department, I am one of the only local Montrealers, and even other fellow Canadians are largely outnumbered by international students from around the world. Over the years, I’ve gotten to know the challenges that international students face when they begin a new graduate program in a new country.

Although many (if not all) the links in this post are useful to international students as well, here are some extra support systems just for you!

12. Support for post-docs

Post-docs, rest assured! Many of the resources apply to you as well, and here is another good place to start.

There is also an Association of Postdoctoral Fellows (APF) you may want to get involved with. They organize events and work hard to share information and expertise, so do contact them (or follow them on Twitter and Facebook!)

13. McGill computer store: http://mcs.mcgill.ca/

Something I did not know when I started was that McGill offers discounts for some computer purchases (check out their “featured brands”) and computer software licenses (even for personal use, such as Photoshop or Dreamweaver) for as long as you are a registered student.

14. McGill Classifieds: http://www.mcgill.ca/classified/

To buy or sell something, to find research assistants or to participate in research studies for some extra cash (and of course to advance scientific knowledge), it is always worth checking the McGill classifieds.

15. Off-campus housing office: http://www.mcgill.ca/students/housing/offcampus

Check the website for apartment listings, roommate tips, and legal information.

Other useful links.

16. GradLife: http://blogs.mcgill.ca/gradlife/

When in doubt, turn to the words of your peers. At GradLife, we tell you all about our experiences, our ups and downs, and our views on the world.

17. General info (student directory):

For anything else, you might find what you are looking for here.

 

Now that I’ve exhausted you with this list, I will stop here. If you know of more valuable resources, please add them to the Comments below!

Have a productive, healthy and rewarding year!

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