Tips for Writing an Academic CV

depicts a CV on a desk with a pair of glasses and a pen

Most of us have a resume, that handy little document where our life is written out in terms of employment and most of us have a good idea of what should be included. An academic CV is another story. If you are applying for grad school or want to demonstrate your involvement in research projects or are applying for certain awards you will need one. I got some great advice when I started compiling mine; ‘it’s never too early to start, you’ve done more than you realize.’ With that sage advice in mind, here are some other tips to help you get started.


There is no one correct way to format your academic CV. It is important it make sure that whatever format you use, it needs to be clear and readable. So don’t mix categories and keep things in reverse chronological order. Most templates start with education, followed by work experience. As you may not have research experience you can add sections for awards, professional memberships, conferences attended and skills. Here are a couple of websites to give you some idea about formatting, and

2. Value the experience you do have

So looking over these templates, you might be feeling discouraged. Chances are you haven’t been published by an academic journal (yet), however, perhaps you have been published in Ryerson Today or a local paper. You may not have presented at a conference, but perhaps you have attended them. Include this information. However, keep in mind that you don’t want to overload your academic CV with information.

3. Length

Which brings us to the topic of length. Unless you have a string of publications to your name, your CV should between one to two pages. After you have the basics, you can plump it up if you need to. However, remember as wonderful as your CV will be, it will probably only be skimmed by the reader so it needs to be clear and concise.

4. Proofread

Like any CV or resume, it’s important, vital really, to make sure that you have someone proofread it. Ask your proofreader to also comment on your fonts and the your organization of your CV. You want to make sure that it is clear at first glance, as a second read might not happen.

5. Share

One of the best ways to evaluate your academic CV is to share with it others who already have one. Find a professor, RA, TA, GA or sessional instructor who is willing to help you with this. Chances are they did they same thing when they first began writing their academic CV.

Good luck!

Helpful Tips for Writing Awards Applications

depicts a dollar sign wearing a graduation cap

There are tons of awards available to help cover the cost of pursuing your education and to highlight your hard work. While, applying for awards might initially seem like more work then they are worth, everyone should apply. When I first started at Ryerson, I didn’t apply for any awards, partly because I thought they were too much work and because I thought there would be so many people applying I wouldn’t have a chance of winning. Neither of which are true. Last year, was my first attempt at applying for an award and I received the Harry E. Foster Memorial Award from the School of Disability Studies. I learned some valuable tips from that experience.

  1. Let your personality shine through. The people on the awards committee probably do not know you. Let them get to know you through your application. Applications don’t need to be as stuffy and formal as you might think. In fact, the more the awards committee can see your personality the more likely they are to remember you.
  2. Throughly read and respond to the award outline. All awards applications will tell you the criteria for how they are distributed. Read this very carefully. Read it several times. And speak to those points. If the award criteria asks for examples of commitment to Ryerson, don’t just mention how long you have been a student, write out your volunteer work, what committees you are on, or if you have done a work study program. Once you start writing it out, you will realize that you have done a lot more than you thought.
  3. Get started early. It’s a good idea to search out awards and start thinking about them long before they are due. Click here to see the list of awards available from the Faculty of Community Services. You should also see if your school offers awards specific to your field of study. Check if the awards require letters of recommendations and ask for them early. Don’t wait until the week before.
  4. Proof-read. I can’t stress this enough. Read over your application. Have someone else do it. Your application is representing you in that awards committee meeting so put your best foot or paragraph forward.
  5. If you don’t succeed, try, try again. It’s a statistical impossibility for you to win every award that you apply for. That doesn’t mean that you should throw in the towel. It could mean that there were other more qualified people who applied, or perhaps you need to reevaluate your application. Use the experience to help you succeed next time.
  6. Be thankful. If (and when) you do receive an award. Be thankful. Write a letter of thank you to the person, organization or family who donated the money for the award. The award donors want to get to know you and see where their donations are going.

Good Luck everyone!

Easing the Tuition Load

We all know that tuition fees have increased. Ontario has the highest tuition fees in the country. Fees have risen by up to 59% in the last six years under the current government. This blog post will cover some of the ways to lighten the financial burden.

ScholarshipApply for Scholarships/Awards: Scholarships do not need to be re-paid. Some scholarship have minimum requirements which you need to meet in order to apply. If you don’t apply for any scholarships/awards, you have zero chances of getting them vs applying for at least couple of them throughout the school year. There are many awards and scholarships available to Ryerson Students listed on the Financial Aid Website.  According to Financial Aid Department, Scholarship hunt shouldn’t end in September and should be an on-going thing until the end of school year. It is suggested that students should treat this process like a job interview because if you are not serious, you will likely won’t get it. Be sure to have all the required application forms in order to be eligible. The Financial Aid Website has broken down the available awards into categories as well as by program specific.  Faculty Wide Awards are awards that are available to students within a certain faculty.
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Students honoured at FCS Recognition Event – An Outsider’s Perspective

Guest Blogger: Samantha Sim
Ontario Work Study Program (OWSP) employee for the Faculty of Community Services and 2nd-year Journalism student

Last Wednesday’s first-annual FCS Student Achievement Event reminded me just how interconnected our world really is and how important it is to use this interconnectedness to give back to the communities around us who’re in need. The event showcased 23 presentations split into two categories: students presenting on conferences they had attended and students presenting on their experience at an international placement.  Being a journalism student I’m essentially an outsider to the faculty, so it was interesting for me to see the variety of countries students visited and the range of topics that had been presented at conferences. The event showed me that no matter your age you can make an impact on the world around you and it really got me thinking about the one I want to make before I leave this school.

Award recipients Ying-Mei Liang (left) and Marian Mohamud (right) with Dean Dr. Usha George.

The event also honoured three students who were recipients of Faculty of Community Service awards. Nursing student Ying-Mei Liang was the winner of the FCS Full-Time Undergraduate Award. “Thank you to FCS for recognizing students who go the extra mile outside of class,” she said. Disability studies student Stacey Simmons won the FCS Part-Time Undergraduate Award. Social work student Marian Mohamud was the recipient of the RBC Community Services Award. “[FCS] recognizes our hard work. [Winning this award] tells me that I’m doing something good and that I should continue doing it,” said Mohamud.

Here are a few of the presentations that caught my eye:

Tina, a fourth-year ECE student who recently visited Tanzania, Africa.

Tina, a fourth-year early childhood education student, spent three weeks in Tanzania, Africa this past May working as a team lead for Child Reach International, a U.K. based charity that provides community based development to children worldwide. She helped renovate a local school, teach children, and recruit team members for the charity. Her stay also included a cultural experience where she was able to visit and explore local African communities. “It was an incredible experience and I’d recommend other students to go,” she said. “I’ll definitely be going back within the next five years.”

Denice (right) speaking with an event attendee.

Health science graduate Denice Koo showcased her presentation “An examination of knowledge, beliefs and perceptions about the plant-based diet among women attending breast cancer risk assessment clinics” that she presented at the American Institute for Cancer Research Annual Research Conference in October 2010. Koo credits the conference support grant as being a major advantage for helping her to secure her current and past jobs. She currently works as a corporate patient education specialist at St. Michael’s Hospital. “Without [the conference support grant], which allowed me to showcase this level of research, I may not have been able to get the types of employment opportunities I’ve had.”

The New Orleans Project and its participants.

A group of students travelled to New Orleans to work with the St. Bernard Project, which is helping to rebuild the St. Bernard parish after Hurricane Katrina. In addition some of the students travelled to Tuscaloosa, Alabama to volunteer at a donation centre sorting goods for the victims of the recent tornadoes. I spoke with Iryna Muzyka, a fourth-year food and nutrition student, and Daphne Paszterko, a continuing education student, who both agree that the trip really opened their eyes to the scope of the damage these natural disasters inflicted. “Even if you can see these things on T.V., [this project let us see firsthand] the people who’ve been affected,” said Paszterko.

Katarzyna (left) with Dean Dr. Usha George (right).

Katarzyna Tupta, a masters nutrition communication student, presented the findings of her presentation titled “Expectations and perceptions of first-year students in Ontario food and nutrition undergraduate programs” at the Dietitians of Canada National Conference in Edmonton this past July. This was the first conference Tupta attended and she encourages other students to take advantage of the conference support grant. “There’s a whole world outside of school with lots of interesting research going on. The [conference support grant] gave me an opportunity to see this and make lots of professional contacts,” she says. For her project Tupta surveyed 104 first-year nutrition students about what they expected out of their program and whether they were interested in becoming dieticians. She found that 97% of students were in the program with the objective of becoming dieticians.

Midwifery Education Program Award Ceremony: Where does the money come from?

In some programs students must rely on school-wide awards or even multi-school ones. This can be discouraging and a lot of people (myself included) don’t even bother applying because the competition is so fierce. In the MEP we are pretty lucky to have multiple award opportunities for each year of study – but even though we’re only competing within our small class the competition is still pretty fierce!

It wasn’t like this in during my last degree. There were entrance scholarships and that’s about it. So what makes this program different? For awards to become established you need two things – money and motivation. I understand how the business community can do great things for upcoming students because they have the means and they’re motivated to promote education so that they’ll have a good batch of graduates to choose from. This makes sense.

Midwifery, as much as any other profession, wants to support its students and get the most from the new graduates. But it takes more than motivation, the award needs money behind it. Midwifery may not pay in herbs, wool, and plucked chickens any more, but neither does it afford the financial resources it would take to fund all of these awards.

So who else cares enough about educating midwives that they are willing to put in the time and resources to promoting midwifery education and recognizing MEP students?

Here are few of the personal stories behind the awards:

Emma Sykes Chandler Memorial Award

This award was established by the parents of Emma Sykes Chandler who was stillborn at 37 weeks. The award was established in memory of their daughter and each year they recognize a student who has supported a family in a complicated situation, such as perinatal loss.

Dr. Murray and Mrs.Eleanor Enkin

Murray and Eleanor Enkin have provided the funding for a great number of awards that are presented each year to MEP students. Dr. Murray Enkin is a retired obstetrician and McMaster professor who is recognized as an important force behind the promotion of midwifery in Ontario. He and his wife Eleanor have established multiple awards that recognize the diversity, academic achievement, and professional care of MEP students.

Judith Rachel Harris Foundation

The Judith Rachel Harris Foundation is a private organization located here in Toronto. The foundation donated more than a million dollars last year in support of education, health care, and the arts. Judith R. Harris is the founder and a trustee for the organization. I heard her speak at last year’s award ceremony and she spoke very beautifully about midwifery and our place in the community.

Judith Pustil

Judith Pustil was a founding midwife working in Toronto and her family established an MEP award to remember her after her death in a car accident in 1997.

Pretty great!