Monday, March 30, 2009

CRA-W Grad Cohort: A Short Summary

I flew back home from sunny San Francisco, California, last night. Naturally, it was rainy and cool here in Ottawa, making me miss the wonderful time I had at the CRA-W Grad Cohort already!

This was the first time I had ever travelled alone. Fortunately, there seemed to be many other women who had done the same, making it very easy to meet lots of new people and chat with them. It was really interesting hearing about their grad school experiences, particularly because things seem to be a bit different in the United States. For instance, as far as I can tell, here in Canada, we almost always view the Masters as a separate program from a PhD when starting on that degree. In contrast, it seemed to be very common for cohort delegates to be in a PhD program that lets you get your Masters on the way, almost as an afterthought.

The content of the conference was very well presented. I really appreciated spending a day and half talking about grad related issues, some women-specific, but most not necessarily so. I plan on blogging about many of these topics in the next few days since I think that many students would benefit from the advice given to us. I will also link to the slides once they are available on the Grad Cohort page on the CRA-W website.

In the evaluation survey at the end of the event, one of the questions asked what we felt the most beneficial aspect of the conference was. I wrote that the poster presentation was incredibly useful for me. I had never done one before, and was somewhat nervous about describing my as-yet incomplete research to the women who were in the same field (not all would be, but certainly some would). As it turned out, it was these women who gave me the biggest confidence boost of all! They thought my topic was really interesting, and were even impressed that I was a Masters student rather than PhD. Thanks so much ladies!

Although I loved San Francisco, and it's barely even spring here, I am glad to be home so I can try to finish off my research once and for all. Thanks CRA-W, Microsoft, Google, and the other sponsors (I'm so sorry - I forget who you are!) for an amazing experience that I definitely think will help me through the end of this Masters degree, and into the PhD I hope to start in September.

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