Tips and Tricks

May Update for Graduate Students

May 05, 2016

Apply by June 8 for over $1 million in SFU private awards for graduate students. Also in this update: Job postings, professional development, and so many other opportunities for grad students. (If you are graduating in June and plan to convocate, we take thousands of photos at every convocation — save that link!)

Awards and Funding

SFU Private Awards 2016 Competition
Due in large part to the generosity of our donors, Simon Fraser University can offer over $1 million in private or endowed awards to our graduate students. Check the list of private awards (pdf) for the scholarships available.

  • Make sure that you review the Terms of Reference for your chosen awards carefully as this will indicate the eligibility criteria and the list of documents required with your online application.
  • June 8 is normally the deadline to submit your application online on the new Graduate Awards, Application and Adjudication system(GA3). Check GA3 to see if your department has set an earlier application deadline date. If you cannot find an award on GA3, then that award may not be available this year, or your department may not have opened up the competition to their students. Make sure that you apply to the correct Department or your application may not be considered.
  • GA3 tip: Add "Dean of Graduate Studies" or "Centre" as a department in your search to see awards that are available university-wide.
  • Questions should be directed to your graduate program assistant (if it's a department-specific award) or to

Grad Student Society Grants 
Professional Development Grants
of $500 for travel occurring between August 1 and November 30, apply by July 4.

Accepting your CIHR, NSERC or SSHRC Award
CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC and Vanier will be notifying students of the competition results during April and May. Visit our website for the steps required to activate and accept your award.

External Awards

External Awards with No Deadline

BCIC Ignite
BCIC Ignite provides funding to accelerate commercialization of new technologies and innovations in the natural resources and applied sciences in British Columbia. The program provides awards of up to $300,000 to consortia that are conducting research leading to commercializable projects that address a significant demonstrated problem faced by industry.

Awards Timelines 
We recommend scanning ahead because it takes time to prepare your awards applications and request letters of recommendation. 

See our Summer Awards Timeline page.


Bonus tip: Keep a running list of awards that you can apply for in your personal calendar. Even if you've missed this year's deadline, it will probably come up again next year and then you'll have more time to get your application in.

Job and Volunteer Postings

TA / TM / Sessional Job Postings for the Fall term
Sessional postings are starting to go up for the Fall 2016 term. Most TA/TM jobs will be going up in late May through July.

Mitacs Business Development Officer
This new position will be based at Simon Fraser University — see full job posting.

Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre
Teaching assistant applications open soon for the fall term. Other jobs also available.

Summer Student Jobs
Students who are looking for on-campus jobs in the summer term should begin looking now, as many of the hirings are done in late March and early April. We've created a roundup blog post to help you out.

SFU Temp Pool and Student Temp Pool
SFU's Temp Pool and Student Temp Pool provide employment opportunities for SFU students. See also all SFU job postings, updated every Tuesday and Thursday.

Federal Student Work Experience Program
Wide variety of student jobs in the Government of Canada, from computer programming to student guides to rescue boat service and more. Must be a full time student; international students may apply but "preference will be given to Canadian citizens who meet the job requirements."

Jobs Roundup

Human Rights Policy Board needs grad student member
SFU's Human Rights Policy Board presently has one vacant membership position, to be filled by a graduate student. Time commitment is a 2-hour meeting per semester, and this position looks really good on your CV if this is related to your research area. If you're interested, please email Abhishek Nanjundappa at

International Student Mentors Needed
Become a graduate mentor or team leader with the International Mentorship Program! Applications are open now through myInvolvement. (You do not have to be an international student.)

Volunteer Roundup

Mitacs Accelerate Paid Internships
Many internships posted here: You can also set up your own internship, paid at $10–15k per term. (Recording of info session available.)

SFU Student Ambassador Volunteers
SFU's Student Ambassador Program is open for applications from students. Ambassadors get a few perks in return for short-term volunteer work.


Student Jobs 
Many student jobs come up with very short notice, so we only have enough time to post them to the graduate students' facebook group.  

Professional Development

Mitacs Workshops
Free workshops for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, highly recommended by other grad students.

Research Commons
Lots of free workshops scheduled for this summer. Sample titles:

Lightning Talks!
Getting ready to present at a conference or talk this spring?

This special APEX session challenges grad students to convey the essential elements of their research in a way that is accessible--all in 8 minutes or less!  Have a chance to practice your talk while receiving friendly advice from our esteemed judging panel! 

  • Date/Time: Wednesday, May 25 from 4-6 pm
  • Location: Burnaby, Bennett Library room 2020
  • Register using myInvolvement
This session is capped at 10 presenters, so register early! Audience members are encouraged to attend, so invite your friends and colleagues. 
APEX Certificate Program     
This program is free for all grad students and info sessions are no longer required! This program will help you:                                                     
  • Identify your long term career goals 
  • Build your professional network 
  • Improve your career documentation
  • Build confidence in your knowledge, skills and abilities.  

The first session, Core Session 1: Foundations, is being held on Thursday, May 12, from 9:30am-12:30pm at Burnaby Campus. Read about how to get started here.

Advanced Professional Engagement & eXploration (APEX)
APEX offers a suite of skill-building workshops and seminars, free for SFU grad students & postdocs. Read more and register for these using myInvolvement.

  • Online Presence: May 17, 1:30–4 pm, SFU Burnaby
  • Understanding your Audience, May 19, 12:30–2:30 pm, SFU Burnaby
  • Crafting your Resume: June 27, 9:30–11:30 am, Harbour Centre
  • Mock Interviews: July 14, 1:30–3:30 pm, SFU Burnaby 

Mitacs Step Workshops
Mitacs workshops are in high demand among students in all disciplines. They are free one and two-day intensive skill-building workshops for grad students and postdoctoral fellows. You can attend any session that Mitacs offers in BC — not only the ones held at SFU. See list of all upcoming workshops & register (click on BC tab). Note that Mitacs workshops are open to graduated grad students for two years after graduation.

Software Carpentry Workshops
SFU will be holding several 1/2 day workshops as part of Titus Brown's Data Intensive Biology (DIB) Training program. All are welcome to participate, regardless of discipline or training level.

15th Annual Symposium on Teaching & Learning: Universal Design for All Learners
SFU's annual Symposium on Teaching and Learning, May 17-19, 2016 is the premier forum for faculty members, instructors, staff and students to share ideas, experiences and practices related to teaching and learning. Admission is free, registration required. Complimentary lunches included

Vancouver Institute for Visual Analytics Student Workshops
A $25 membership gets you into a free 8-week student workshop series.

Research Commons Space 
The Research Commons is a spacious working area in the Bennett Library (7th floor), where graduate students can work on their research and writing in the company of other graduate students. (Link for door code.)

Consortium for the Advancement of Research Methods and Analysis Video Library
Topics range from Estimating Interaction Effects Using Multiple Regression to Statistical Analysis with Big Data. Access through SFU Library databases until August 31 — your feedback on the usefulness of this video library is requested to determine whether the library will keep it.

Passport to Leadership
Passport to Leadership
is a series of six interactive workshops that introduce a broad range of relevant leadership topics that will help you discover your own leadership potential. Starts May 30. Cost $75.

Advanced Professional Engagement & eXploration (APEX) Calendar  
A calendar of all professional development opportunities open to graduate students at SFU--all in one place!

You can also add it to your personal SFU Connect calendar. (Instructions are at the bottom of the page.)


President's Dream Colloquium on Returning to the Teachings
You are invited to join us for an exciting speaker series and graduate course that will explore justice, identity and belonging in the context of Education for Reconciliation. Speakers include Wab Kinew, John Borrows, Wade Davis and Dr. Manulani Aluli-Meyer. Applications for the graduate course open now.

Human Behavior and Evolution Society Conference
Will be held in Vancouver this year, June 29–July 2, and the organizers are looking for student volunteers, who will get free registration in exchange for 4–6 hours per day. To volunteer, email Laura Dane,

Frontiers in Biophysics Conference
Taking place at SFU Burnaby, June 4. Dr Adam Cohen, Harvard University, will be delivering the keynote on "Bringing Bioelectricity to Light". Abstract submissions due May 11 for talks and May 20 for posters. Contact is Lavisha Jindal, PhD candidate in Physics.

SFU Scientific Programming Study Group
Weekly meetings for peer-facilitated study-sessions on topics from Python for DNA sequence analysis, plotting and statistical analysis of environmental data in R, automating repetitive tasks with the shell, general best practices in coding, using tools such as Git and Github to collaborate effectively with others, and much much more.

Events around Campus (See even more listings)

Events around Metro Vancouver


Tips and Tricks

Want to Run a Program in a Vancouver Park?
The Vancouver Park Board's Fieldhouse Activation Program provides you or your group with space in a fieldhouse and access to parks to create activities that engage the community.

The Next Big Thing
The Next Big Thing entrepreneurship fellowship from Hootsuite's founder. Applicants must be under 25. Apply by June 30. (See also BCIC's roundup of funding sources for entrepreneurs.)

SFU Residences Moves Downtown
The Vancouver Graduate Residence is for grad students only, and opens in June 2016. Applications to move in are open now. Located by SFU Woodward's (see google map).

Health & Counselling Services
A compiled list of sexual assault support services at SFU.

Northeast False Creek Stewardship Group and Park Design Advisory Group 
The City of Vancouver and Vancouver Park Board are looking for committee members for a Stewardship Group and a Park Design Advisory Group to help create a vibrant, sustainable new neighbourhood for everyone in the city.

Graduate Caucus Funding
Did you know that every graduate caucus gets money to spend on almost anything that benefits the grad students in your department? (See the Caucus Funding Spreadsheet for funds available to you for the rest of this fiscal year.)

CRABE Lab Pays for Research Subjects
Students are invited to sign up online. Participants receive $7 for arriving on time to the session and an additional payment (usually around $15-20/hour) that depends on the decisions they make.

Research Study Needs Flight Attendants
Stephanie Wong is doing a study for understanding the workpractices of flight attendants who are either working in Canada or any international airlines. Gift cards of $30 CAD are available. Contact Stephanie at

Open Letter from Canadian Post-Secondary Students Calling for Effective Climate Action
Embark SFU needs your signatures.

Online Resilience Course for Grad students
Resilience is a survival skill, and there's a free course on Canvas on Bouncing Back as a Graduate Student: Building Resilience and Supporting Your Well-being.

Free access to
All current students, staff, and faculty have free access to through the SFU Library.

Free Microsoft Office
All SFU students can install Microsoft Office for free. (Adobe Creative Suite is also available for university-owned computers — could work for labs.)

Confirmation of Enrollment Request
If you need a confirmation of enrollment letter, you can do it yourself through GoSFU.

Open Access Fund
If you're publishing in an Open Access journal, the SFU Library has an Open Access Fund that graduate students can access.

BCIC-New Ventures competition
The BCIC-New Ventures competition is now open for registrations from early-stage companies. Also significant for our not-quite-ready entrepreneurs — they have a great seminar series that is FREE to students.

Contest Roundup

Reading Roundup

Want More Academic Readings?
If you're planning a career in academia, you're eligible for a free subscription to University Affairs. They're also looking for articles by students for their student voices section — Submit your idea to


Leaves for Graduate Students
Two significant regulation changes for graduate student leaves are now in effect:

  • graduate students in a per unit fee program need to be continuously enrolled unless they have been granted a leave of absence (nothing has changed for graduate students in per-term fee programs)
  • two new categories of leave have been created (personal leave, academic break) and the leave of absence fee has been eliminated for all types of leave

For more details on these changes, please read Graduate General Regulations 1.4.3 and 1.8.4 and see more details and forms at our website.

International Graduate Students

U.S. Visa Workshop
Gain valuable insight regarding the visa application and interview process, and to learn about the different types of U.S. non immigrant visas. Representatives from the U.S. Consulate will be on site to deliver the workshop, May 17, 2–3:30 pm at SFU Burnaby.

Tax Information for International Students Studying in Canada: Video Series
The Canada Revenue Agency has released a series of short videos explaining the different aspects of the Canadian tax system as it relates to international students in post-secondary institutions.

BCNP Introduces new Skilled Immigration Program 
The province of British Columbia has launched a new intake system for the Provincial Nominee Program. Go here to learn more.

In-person International Advising Now Available in Vancouver and Surrey  
International Services for Students is now offering in-person appointments with their International Student Advisors at the SFU Vancouver and Surrey campuses. Go here to book your appointment and find more information.

EAL/ESL Support Services for Graduate Students 
If English is not your first language and you would like to improve your written and spoken proficiency, CELLTR has put together a roundup of free support services available at SFU.

New Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA)
Canada has a new entry requirement ( eTA ) for foreigners traveling to Canada by air. This entry requirement became mandatory on March 15, 2016. Find out more about the eTA here.  If you are a U.S. citizen or you currently hold a valid Temporary Resident Visa (entry visa), you will be exempt from this new eTA entry requirement.

Recommended Reading
Western Guide to Mentoring Graduate Students Across Cultures (pdf download). This guide can help you navigate a lot of common communication issues based on cultural assumptions.




Drumming at Images Theatre
Thursdays, 3–4:30 pm. Will move to be outside Indigenous Students Centre during sunny days. Contact with any questions

Two Spirit People: Then and Now: Mending the Sacred Hoop
May 10th, 5-7:30pm 131 West Hastings Street. 10th Floor Sky Room
teachings by Harlan Pruden. Email Patrick at to register.

International Indigenous Leadership Gathering (IILG)
The St’át’imc Chiefs’ Council (SCC) will once again host the 8th Annual International Indigenous Leadership Gathering on June 2 to June 5, 2016 in Lillooet, BC. If you are interested in going this year please contact for more information.

New Relationship Trust has opened up applications for their university scholarships
The New Relationship Trust Foundation and BC First Nations communities realize the importance of education. Interested and eligible BC First Nation students are encouraged to apply for the NRT Foundation Post-Secondary Scholarship Awards. Deadline: June 9


Graduate Students in the News

External factors setting Vancouver's housing costs, university study finds
Saeed Soltani and Bita Shadga (Big Data grad students) were interviewed in the Globe and Mail about their work on housing costs in Vancouver — they examined more than one million records from the city’s open data catalogue.

Inaugural Lind Prize awarded to SFU filmmaker
Vilhelm Sundin, MA in Contemporary Arts, just won the inaugural Philip B. Lind Prize of $5000.

Computing science doctoral student receives top dissertation award
Ibraheem Alhashim has received the Alain Fournier Ph.D. Dissertation Annual Award for proposing a new way to model and make 3D objects.

SFU study taps indigenous stories to paint picture of climate change
Valentina Savo, a Postdoc with the Hakai Institute, is featured in the Vancouver Sun for her work on Indigenous stories and climate change.

Flood control structures in tidal creeks, sloughs harm fish in lower Fraser River
David Scott's Master's thesis led to a job at the Raincoast Conservation Foundation and this feature in the Vancouver Sun.

Alumnus wins prestigious award for novel medical image analysis technique
Masoud S. Nosrati, a recent PhD graduate from SFU’s School of Computing Science, has received a prestigious doctoral dissertation award from the Canadian Image Processing and Pattern Recognition Society.

Economics PhD student is a SSHRC storyteller finalist
Duman Bahrami-Rad, a PhD student in Economics, has been selected as a Top 25 Finalist in the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Storyteller competition. His project on kinship, fractionalization, and corruption was supported by a SSHRC grant.

SFU prof and student developing system that pulls water out of thin air
SFU mechatronics professor Majid Bahrami and his PhD student Farshid Bagheri are developing a sustainable solution to the global water shortage.

"Gardens on Wheels" have taken root in Surrey with SFU
SFU urban studies graduate students Tammas Grogan and Kate Elliott launch Gro-Carts Mobile Gardens in Surrey. Full details in SFU News.

Blewett Conservation Society hosts talk on water security
SFU School of Resource and Environmental Management PhD student Sarah-Patricia Breen will give a talk on the link between drinking water systems and rural communities.

The Alberta girl who had her family murdered a decade ago is about to be free
SFU criminology PhD candidate Evan McCuish comments on common disorders among young offenders.

City of Vancouver makes use of postsecondary students to advance sustainability
SFU urban studies master's student Wes Ragan is helping to promote more sustainable policies at Vancouver City Hall.

Big Tobacco sought to enhance own image by fighting AIDS, study says
SFU researchers including post-doctoral fellow Julie Smith show big tobacco companies made donations to HIV/AIDS organizations and pressured politicians - to distract from the public health issues smoking causes.

Memorable Learning Experiences
Carolina López was interviewed on her experiences at SFU Education. She's now setting up a regional network in Mexico for educators interested in Imaginative Education and its programs.

SFU Researchers Build a Better Bionic Hand
Grad student alumnus Lukas-Karim Merhi, of the Menon Lab, is leading an SFU team in the Cybathlon cyborg Olympics in Zurich in October. SFU is the only Canadian team.

Youth Get It investment program assists Ben Britton, CEO of Ionomr
From Ben's interview in VanCityBuzz: "I’m a grad student who was surprised to find a project to truly believe in. The goal is to form Ionomr into a $200 million company, a reasonable estimate given what other companies in the sector have achieved, given the CleanTech markets we’re targeting, and given our advantages."

Dan Peach Goes to Canadian 3 Minute Thesis Finals
Congratulations to Dan Peach, Gries Lab, who took third place at the Western Regional competition last Friday, and who is the first SFU student to go to the Canadian finals competition!



Grad Students Facebook Group
Advice and support, movies, free food — plus last-minute job postings and awards alerts: 
(SFU email ID required to join)

Follow us on Twitter: @SFU_GradStudies