What prompted you to enroll in the Research Administration Certificate?
Being “new” to the research admin world, I come from a related but very different background. I have a Master’s degree in Aquatic Toxicology and several years of research experience. However, my career took a turn when I accepted a job with the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation as a Funding Program Coordinator back in 2018. Since then I have been immersed in the world of research funding and research administration. In my current role as a Research Funding Coordinator with Saskatchewan Health Authority, I wear many hats, as our Research Department is not very big. I review grant applications before they are submitted to funders, deal with research finance and accounts, survey research funding landscape for potential funding opportunities, and to some degree deal with research contracts if needed. Having such a variety of responsibilities but no mentor in the organization who could pass on valuable research administration knowledge is what pushed me to pursue this certification.
How have you as a student benefited from CARA membership?
I must say that I have not yet fully enjoyed the benefits of the membership. I was planning to attend the annual CARA conference this past spring, but unfortunately, COVID-19 got in the way of that. That’s one of the benefits of the membership I am looking forward to exploring in the future. In the meantime, CARA membership gave me an opportunity to enroll in the Research Admin Certification program. I see this program as my gateway to valuable knowledge and skills that I would not be able to attain otherwise. I have also enjoyed free webinars that CARA puts on for its members. There have been some paid ones that I would be interested in; however, my workload does not always allow for it.
What has been helpful to you in balancing your other responsibilities with your studies?
I am a working mother of two little humans, and until the pandemic that had never slowed me down. On the contrary, I had more activities and responsibilities than most would be willing to take on. But I must say, COVID has really put things in perspective for me. Working from home, while taking care of two little children is quite an undertaking. Now add online education, and one must get quite creative on how to manage time and responsibilities. What has helped me is setting REALISTIC goals and expectations for myself as well as making sure I have protected time at work to do my studies. I usually make up a “To Do” list in the morning and markdown priority tasks. I also book a day to do my studies, but realistically I do not always have the luxury to spend a whole day devoted to this course. I think what keeps me sane is the realization that I might not be able to accomplish everything I have set out to do that day and that is okay. There is always tomorrow…
How many hours a week do you spend on your studies?
As I mentioned previously ideally, I would like to spend at least 7.5 hours during one day a week on the course. However, other more pressing matters often get in the way and I end up doing a little bit of studying at a time. This sometimes takes longer as taking long breaks between studying something forces me to go back and familiarize myself again with what I was learning about prior to the break. So realistically I spend somewhere between 8 to 12 hours a week on this course material.