Hi there! ^_^
For this week’s blog post, I’m going to take a bit of a break from talking about my experience at OISE and let somebody else share their experience.
I’m going to share an interview with my friend Yisha Tang, who I met last semester in my Reading in a Second Language class. She helped me set up and run my PowerPoint for the presentation I mentioned HERE, and I really appreciated her help. I’m not that good at figuring out how technology works sometimes, and having somebody help me run things the day of my presentation was invaluable.
Yisha just finished her MEd in Developmental Psychology & Education this past semester, and will be graduating this June 2017. She is an international student from China. Without further ado, I present her thoughts on her OISE experience:
What drew you to OISE’s program?
The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) was a totally new institution for me, but Chinese people are familiar with the top-ranking universities all over the world. The University of Toronto, with its academic reputation, appeals to many Chinese students and their parents. The reason why I choose to pursue further study at OISE is that, firstly, OISE plays an important role in educational research worldwide. OISE has a large number of teaching and educational resources, qualified faculty, and diverse teaching and studying groups. Secondly, as a crucial unit of the University of Toronto, OISE has attracted many renowned scholars and professors, who share their research experience with students by offering lectures, seminars, and taking part in the classroom. Thirdly, OISE has diverse community groups who like to share their culture and values to bring a better multicultural perspective.
What did you love about the program and/or your professors and peers?
I did not study psychology and education systematically before I came to OISE. My professors and peers are very willing to provide their advice and offer their help. We have a lot of team work for each course, in activities like group presentations, poster displaying, and designing lesson plans.
My peers always offer good suggestions and constructive ideas to create a cooperative learning atmosphere. Professors in our department, Applied Psychology and Human Development, have research expertise and lots of teaching experience. They value different perspectives brought in by local and international students. Their lectures are informative, research intensive, and well-structured. They are willing to offer their own insights into issues on developmental psychology and education. In each class, I can meet so many kind and knowledgeable colleagues from different countries, hear their opinions, and share our experiences and viewpoints.
What did you learn about yourself at OISE?
In addition to professional knowledge and research, I have a clearer understanding about myself after I completed this program. It triggered my interest in early education and psychology, which remained unknown to me before I started the program. The passion of the faculty at OISE has motivated me to explore more possibilities in educational research. I find myself curious about theories of child and adolescent development after taking courses in the Department of Applied Psychology and Human Development. Besides, I learned to be an independent thinker and a critical reader. In my previous learning periods, teachers usually asked us to memorize all core text content and figure out the right answers without critical thinking. However, scholars at OISE encourage us to read and learn critically and use evidence-based proofs to illustrate our points of view. It takes effort at the beginning, but then I found myself enjoying the process of reviewing literature and critically summarizing existing research. In addition to independent learning, I also developed my teamwork skills and interpersonal communication. Nearly all the courses in our department involve cooperative activities around academic topics. Students are very willing to contribute their ideas and experience to group activities, such as discussions, presentations, and demo teaching.
What would you say to a future OISE student?
As an international student myself, I highly recommend international students join the OISE community. The courses, lectures, classrooms and libraries provide students with an optical learning environment. The professors and scholars create an encouraging and harmonious study atmosphere. You can meet friends from all around the world and share experiences and knowledge with your peers. OISE provides various seminars and student services, such as career consultation, paper editing and resume designing. Meanwhile, courses at OISE are so flexible that you could choose online courses or mixed courses if you are occupied with your job.
Now that you are done your degree, what are you doing to secure employment and/or figure out what to do next?
I would like to look for jobs related to education and teaching. I had a part-time teaching job when I was a full-time student at OISE, teaching IELTS prep courses at a private school. I also volunteered to teach kids on the weekends. With the knowledge and skills I learned at OISE, I believe I have a more mature teaching perspective and professional knowledge to develop my teaching career path. Fortunately, the school where I worked as a part-time teacher is willing to offer me a full-time job. They value what I learned from the program and speak highly of my personal efforts.
Do you have any advice or tips for current or future OISE students about how to prepare for the workforce?
Yes, definitely. My advice is, firstly, prepare your resume and cover letter as early as possible. Post this information on LinkedIn if you want to expand your professional network. You can also book resume writing and editing sessions at the OISE Student Success Center. You can join various workshops offered by the Career Learning Network at the University of Toronto. They offer hands-on materials, and a series of workshops on getting a job. Generally, building a network plays an important role in finding an ideal job position in the job market. Actually, OISE provided me with a large network of stakeholders from different school settings. I learned a lot from them and obtained first-hand job-related information and resources. They shared many education-related job posts available online with me, and encouraged me to take part in job fairs on campus. You could also approach tutors and professors in your department to ask for their guidance and suggestions about your future career path.
I think it is beneficial for international students to reach out and get more local working experience. The urgent concern for international students, including me, is to apply for a valid Work Permit which allows them to find a full-time job after graduation. Besides, although Toronto has an optimal job market in Canada, jobs related to the educational field are limited- especially for international students, based on my research.
I think Yisha has a good head on her shoulders, and is well-prepared for the next stage of her life. What she says about finding a full-time job and building a career makes sense. I’m glad I got to know her during my first semester here at OISE, and wish her the best of luck with the rest of her life! 😀
Anybody interested in reading another interview with an international student at OISE can go HERE to read my interview with my friend Siwen Tang.
I have learned a lot about life and education through meeting so many different people with so many different perspectives at OISE. I highly encourage anybody who is interested to apply to OISE, and start their own journey here! ^_^