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One grad student's journey

Make the most of your time at Concordia!

One student. One photographer.
One year in grad school at Concordia...

Josie Fomé teamed up with Concordia’s senior photographer Lisa Graves to capture her time as an undergraduate in communication studies and human relations. 

Now, the two friends are working together again to cover Josie's journey through the one-year Graduate Diploma in Journalism program.

Originally from Cameroon, Fomé is an avid volunteer with her sights on a career in broadcasting.

She has written articles for Her Campus and U Sports, and recently completed a weeklong internship at the CBC. Besides her journalism-related work, Fomé has dedicated time to taking risks she would normally avoid. These include becoming a speaker for and applying to Big Brother Canada.

Here are her tips for graduate students at Concordia.

'Take care of yourself'

When you’re going though grad school, you're often thinking about deadlines and getting things done. You may forget to eat, or consider sleep something you can put off until later.

These basic necessities are actually very important – especially for me. I’m known around my program as someone who can sleep anywhere at any time and be comfortable. Sleep is vital, yet many students seem to think they can only rest once they’re finished their degree.

Whoever says they produce better work after pulling an all-nighter hasn’t tried sleeping. Get some rest and your work will be exponentially better.

'Get involved in university life'

Contact the Concordia Student Union (CSU) or the Graduate Students Association (GSA) and ask how you can get involved.

This past fall, I worked for the CSU during orientation and got to interact with incoming students. I cooked for them and served them coffee early in the morning. It was great!

There is no better or faster way to get to know the campus than by working or volunteering for these groups. As a graduate student, you are only here for a limited amount of time. If you want to feel a part of the community, getting involved is key.

'Learn new skills and network with others'

GradProSkills workshops are really helpful because you get to meet other people and develop skills that enrich your life.

I recently went to a session that focused on the importance of starting your job search with a career plan in mind. The workshops are all so good, it’s just a matter of making time for them.

If I’m being very honest with myself, I spend good portions of my day on social media that I could instead use to go to more workshops. We also receive countless emails promoting upcoming sessions, so there is no reason why you shouldn’t know what is going on and when.

'Look for grad-specific scholarships' 

Money is a tricky thing. If you’re stressed about finances, you’re not putting your all into why you came to university in the first place.

Do your research and discover what funding opportunities you are eligible for and how to apply. For example, I was fortunate enough to win the Susan Carson Memorial Bursary from the Montreal Gazette because of my academic and community accomplishments.

Some programs even provide their students with a list of scholarships they can apply for and their deadlines. Apply for them!

'Find your people'

On my first day of orientation, I met one of my classmates and we exchanged numbers. She wrote her name as “Miriam the coolest person in the world” in my phone, and I thought that was hilarious. We’re really good friends now and use each other to develop our ideas for classes.

Building a community – even if it’s just one or two people – is so comforting. We also started a Facebook group in my program where we can communicate within a larger group. That’s been really helpful when I need to talk about a theoretical idea I don’t understand or just want to get people’s opinion on something.

You do you and you’ll attract people who like that.

'Ignore the tiny voice in the back of your head'

At one point, you will think to yourself that you aren’t enough and you should probably quit. Do not give that voice any space.

I definitely have moments where a classroom conversation will go a little bit above my head, but that’s okay. Iron sharpens iron and I’m thankful to be in a classroom of super intelligent people.

It’s always easier to give advice than to live it out, but we’re all going through the same struggle. Always remain confident in your abilities and use your voice.

Check out photos and reflections from Josie's time as an undergrad and her journey as a grad student at Concordia

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