Why I chose Guelph
I was working full time at a local hospital/health center as a dietitian and felt like there was no more room for growth or promotion within the organization. I am a person who cannot thrive unless I'm growing personally and professionally. I started to apply for jobs with the WHO, public health and other industries within the field of nutrition outside of a clinical setting but couldn't even land one interview.
Throughout this I realized how much I missed being a student because of all of the incredible opportunities that were available to me during my undergrad years. I grew so much and was able to dabble in so many different types of learning experiences as a student and I knew this was the only way for me to grow quickly again and be able to open a ton of new doors and opportunities for professional growth. I contemplated doing an MBA but did a few informational interviews with organizations that I dreamed of working at and the general consensus I gathered was that any kind of master's that gave you research skills would make me more fit for these positions. I also was deterred by the high tuition fees of a MBA and thought it was still something I could day later on in my career.
I decided to pursue the MSc AHN because of the following:
1) The faculty in the program are experts and well-known names in the nutrition world
2) They bring a plethora of experience/knowledge and wisdom to students since they've been in the field for a long period of time!
3) Open the door to tons of new possibilities by taking advantage of as many extra curricular programs that I could do
4) The thesis idea I spoke to about with my potential adviser involved me being able to collaborate with the Marketing and Consumer Studies department which was a HUGE plus because of my background and interest in business/marketing.
About my advisor
My adviser, Dr Paula Brauer, has been an integral part of creating such an incredible experience for me here. Not only is she very understanding of my professional and career goals, which has taken time away from my thesis work, she is also great at helping me stay on track with my research. I'm more of an applied person who never dreamt I would one day write a thesis so it has been a bit of a slower process for me given that I'm taking advantage of a ton of extra curricular opportunities on campus. She treats me more like a colleague than a student, shares professional development tips with me, has brought some great opportunities to me, and though she has been understanding of all the outside activities I've been involved in, she does help me keep track of my progress on my research and has taught me so much about the research process! She also holds journal club meetings a few times during each semester with all of the students she has under wing. This is something not many other advisers seem to do. She also offered a workshop for her own students on survey development (a course that's not offered on campus anywhere). She taught us some very practical and useful skills about creating surveys. She really invests her time in her students and cares to see them do well! BEST adviser I could have chosen.
What is it like to be a grad student at U of G?
I think from the things I've noted above, you can tell that I've had a great experience at UofG. Some of the things I've valued the most are:
1) Having an incredible adviser and co-adviser
2) The interdisciplinary approach to research (being able to conduct research between and two different departments)
3) The support of the faculty towards grad students (because classes are very small, so you get to know your profs VERY well)
4) The amount of extra curricular opportunities/workshops/educational sessions from industry/the ability to take courses through Mitacs as part of our tuition (at no additional cost)! (Mitacs is a MUST! Only available to graduate students... it's a program that offers very practical, useful skills such as project management, writing business proposals, writing for a thesis, networking skills, etc). The workshops available to graduate students (if taken advantage of) can really help prepare you to get back into the working world once you're done!
Words of advice
Grad school opens doors! SO many doors have opened up for me just in the last two years of my degree here.
Make sure you choose an adviser who is well-known in the industry because they will help you grow quickly in the field. I saw my adviser as a professional mentor and I'm able to go to her with questions about the industry. She has given me so much insight into the future of our professional field which has helped shape my future career goals. Take advantage of all the mentorship opportunities that you can. Grad school is the BEST place for that! Finding mentors when you're not a student is hard. Being a student is a great excuse to find mentors who will be so strategically useful to you, if you take advantage of your time here!
About the campus
Love the community-feel! It has a homey feel because it's smaller compared to the campus I did my undergrad at. I love that classes are small and my profs know me by name and know more than just my name (they know ME!)
Also, because I'm a dietitian, my love for food/nutrition is so well-fit on this campus! There is such an emphasis on food/agriculture. Even the business school invites guests from the food industry. A lot about this campus focuses on what I love the most, food!
About the city
I've been in Guelph for the past 5 years. I moved here for my first job as a dietitian. I didn't like it at first because it was very hard for me to meet new people and connect with the community. I only started to love the city when I became a student of UofG because of the incredible amount of opportunities to get to know my community better and to network with some key-players of the nutrition/food world in the city. The opportunities to network with people outside of UofG even became more available through the university and it helped me get to know my city better!
I love living here now because I see how much influence UofG has on the city as a whole.
One thing I have always appreciated about Guelph is the cute small-town feel when it's not really a small-town. I do also LOVE the lovely little coffee shops and incredible restaurants! They alone, would make me continue coming back to Guelph even if I eventually had to move one day!
How will my work Improve Life
My research looks at the use of "nudge" marketing interventions on the consumption of fruits and vegetables at post secondary institutions across Canada. Nudging is a newer term in the marketing and health promotion field; something that is only being adopted as of late in the food industry. Many studies have shown this type of marketing intervention to help increase the sales and consumption of healthy food items and our hope is that our research will help universities and colleges begin to adopt these strategies as they are generally cost-effective and easy to implement. There are a lot of practical implications to my research!
My Future Plans
I plan to pivot my career as a clinical dietitian (RD) into a role as a food industry marketing consultant.
I have been running a consulting business since 2011 but could never really grow it further because of my lack of research experience/knowledge (and because most of my time was going to my full time job as a clinical RD).
I have already had interviews with agencies that are interested in my new services given the experience I now have conducting primary research as well as my experience as part of the Hub program. This added new business-related skills to my resume. The most incredible and helpful experience I've had during my degree has been the semester where I was part of the Hub Sandbox program offered through CESI and The John F Wood Center for Business and Entrepreneurship. I was a business consultant for The SEED in Guelph and helped to develop a business plan/proposal and product prototype for a new social enterprise they wanted to start. I met an awesome business partner (another student at UofG) along the way. Together every week, we went to the Hub Incubator sessions to learn about business development, marketing, strategic planning and so many other things. We then developed a product prototype after doing market research and networking within the city of Guelph. This experience helped me learn SO much and boosted my resume! This is an experience I know I would not have had access to if I were not a student! (Being a student allows so many doors to open!)
I'm happy for incoming students or anyone to get in touch with me and watch my career progression through LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kiranbainsrd/