The added value of the MEL and MHLP programs
Going back to school to do a master’s program is a commitment to your personal and professional growth. The UBC Master of Engineering Leadership (MEL) and Master of Health Leadership and Policy (MHLP) offer a range of professional development and student engagement opportunities to help you make the most of this pivotal period.
To support this goal, the MEL and MHLP leadership team has created programming to meet students’ changing needs over the course of the academic year.
The team identified three distinct phases of growth, and then designed events and activities to support students at each phase.
First semester is all about new beginnings
In the first semester, says Bailey Kew, Manager of Student Engagement for the two programs, you’ll be settling in to student life after several years in the workforce. It’s a time to establish study habits, meet peers, get familiar with the UBC campus and adjust to life in Vancouver if you’ve made a move from elsewhere in the country or world to study here.
“The MEL and MHLP are interdisciplinary degrees and we want to celebrate that interdisciplinarity and make the most of it,” says Kew.
“That means taking steps from the beginning to help people feel safe being part of this community and integrating with others from very different backgrounds. We need to create spaces for students to meet their counterparts in the other sector-specific programs and to create connections between the health-care professionals in the MHLP and those with engineering or technical backgrounds in the MEL.”
Many different events are on offer to help you deepen that sense of connection and belonging.
The three-day Welcome Week in January creates opportunities to meet classmates from all the sector-specific programs.
Potlucks invite students to share food from their home culture. Paint nights and game nights in the MEL/MHLP-exclusive studio space on campus are fun ways to connect with new people and deepen friendships.
Professional development opportunities are offered regularly.
These events introduce and reinforce the skills you will be practising and developing over the year. They’ve included topics on time management, active listening, cultural sensitivity and awareness, Indigenous issues in Canada, elevator pitches and storytelling. Events are led by both outside experts as well as UBC staff.
Developing a Career Portfolio and setting goals
It is never too early to start defining specific professional goals, and the events in the first semester encourage you to adopt the growth mindset that’s needed to successfully launch the next stage of your career.
“I create opportunities for MEL and MHLP students to reflect on what they have accomplished in the past and what they want to achieve in the future,” says Jessi Guercio, the designated Career Strategist for the MEL and MHLP.
“One way that happens is through the Career Portfolio process, where students work through a series of exercises and questions each month to identify what they are learning and make active decisions to navigate the next stage of the journey.”
Guercio notes that the focus on developing soft skills – or what he calls “human skills” – is a focus of many of the events and workshops.
“These interpersonal skills are going to be as important to your career success as your technical skills,” he says.
Semesters two and three look outwards
“The second semester is about getting out into the community,” says Kew. “It’s a time for conferences and field trips, for exploring and growing your network.”
The focus of professional development and student engagement events in the third semester are all about getting employed.
“We offer events and workshops – as well as personalized coaching – on getting your resume and cover letter in top shape, leveraging your LinkedIn profile, job search strategies and succeeding in interviews,” says Guercio.
One-on-one support throughout the year
The MEL and MHLP have the potential to be truly transformative experiences.
That’s exciting – but as with any period of change, it can help to have opportunities to check in with advisors to talk through what you are experiencing.
Kew and Guercio both encourage MEL and MHLP students to check in with them regularly.
This year, they were able to extend invitations to each student in the first semester for a 30-minute one-on-one to talk about how they are settling in, offer support and connect students with resources as needed. And students are welcome to set up meetings with Kew and Guercio throughout the year.
An inclusive, welcoming learning community
The MEL and MHLP are rigorous academic experiences where you will be learning from renowned leaders and alongside other professionals like yourself who want to gain the new knowledge and skills to make an impact in their industry.
The wide-ranging offerings of professional development opportunities and social events are invaluable ways to get even more out of the program.
“We are creating a supportive and inclusive community to help our students thrive and to create those strong connections that will continue well after graduation,” says Kew.
Guercio adds that it is in students’ best interests to take full advantage of the workshops, events, social gatherings and networking opportunities on offer.
“If you put in the time, you will be rewarded. When you cultivate a growth mindset and take ownership and responsibility for your learning journey, you are going to succeed.”