Professional Development

The Delicate art of Being a Student: Stephanie Chu, Education PhD, and Teaching & Learning Centre Director on her alt-ac career path

November 12, 2014
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This article is part of a series exploring professional paths for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows that make use of or leverage academic training but are not limited to traditional faculty positions (#alt-ac). If you would like to hear more about Stephanie's story and ask her your questions, come to our November 13, 2014 Alt-Ac Career Cafe.

*Note this event is full, email jamsden@sfu.ca to be put on our waiting list.

Overwhelmed with trying to get your comps done, apply for that research conference, finish that journal submission, and complete your project management certificate? According to Stephanie Chu, you don’t have to be. 

Stephanie completed an MA and PhD in Education Psychology at SFU.

During her Master’s program she held a full-time position with Centre for Online Distance and Education, along with two Research Assistantships.

Stephanie managed to juggle it all for a year though it took its toll.

“The workload resulted in serious imbalance between work and life. The latter didn’t really exist anymore. If I wasn’t studying, I was working. It wasn’t healthy or fulfilling.”

 Stephanie had to make some choices.

“I could have spent a lot of energy working on someone else’s research and having publications, but I came to realize that I wasn’t really interested in pursuing a faculty role. That allowed me to focus on what I really believe in: service.”

Stephanie continued working with faculty and programs on their online and distance education courses and stepped away from research assistantships when a new career opportunity emerged. After completing her Master’s degree she moved on to a doctoral program, all the while working in various educational development roles in BC post-secondary institutions. 

The educational and technical skills she gained through these jobs, combined with her academic training, eventually lead her to a position doing what she loves back at SFU: supporting learning as the Director of the Teaching and Learning Centre.

Stephanie urges graduate students to identify their career goals or directions early so they don’t miss out on key opportunities to pursue them,

“If you are interested in working in industry or business or academic administration, then pursue a co-op or an internship and start building your experience—even if that means extending your program.”

Work smarter, not harder, and you might not only get farther, but enjoy yourself in the process.

- Jackie Amsden, APEX Professional Development Coordinator


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