Two words: DO IT!

Amanda Chaulk-Parrott, Aurora College, Inuvik, Northwest Territories


What prompted you to enroll in the Research Administration Certificate?

My background is in environmental chemistry and adult education. A few years ago, the program I was teaching at my institution was cancelled; I was fortunate to transition into a research administration role with the research branch of the college. Despite having a background in applied research, I had no experience in research administration and was hoping to find professional development that would support me in this new role. The Research Administration Certificate through Mohawk College was recommended to me by a former colleague. 


How have you benefited from the Research Administration Certificate?

The Mohawk program provided the administrative knowledge, context, and skills I was lacking; every course I’ve completed has had direct benefits to my performance at my job.

My past research experience left me intimately familiar with NSERC, but none of the other tri-agency programs. The Canadian Research Funding Course forced to me to become familiar with the funding programs offered by SSHRC, CIHR and CFI (all of which are accessed by my institution), as well as the Research Support Fund Program (which I know administer for my institution).  I found the Financial Management in Research course the most difficult, but also the course wherein I learned the most and apply the knowledge daily: the many class discussions about application of TAGFA were invaluable.  


How many courses have you completed to date?

I started the program in September 2020 and have completed 5 of the 6 courses to date. I am currently completing my final course: Contracts and Reporting.


What advice would you give someone considering the Research Administration Certificate?

Two words: DO IT! 

The program is great and I really have benefited from the courses I’ve taken so far. My strategy is to devote a few hours a week to staying up-to-date with assignments and readings. I recommend students aren’t shy to seek out resources or chat with others at your institution to find answers for some of the class discussions. When I was completing the research ethics course I learned a lot about my own institution by chatting with our research ethics board support staff.


How have you as a student benefited from CARA membership?

To be honest, I find I’ve benefited from my CARA membership most as a research administrator. I’m the sole RA at my institution; having CARA members and special interest groups to draw resources, advice, best-practices and lessons learned with has been incredibly beneficial.

What has been helpful to you in balancing your other responsibilities with your studies?

Time management. I like to look at my schedule for the week on Monday mornings, figure out what commitments I have and what tasks I’d like to accomplish and try to budget in time for everything (work duties and classwork). 


What is the best part of the certificate for you?

Participating in the Research Administration certificate program has really added value to what I can do within my role. I’ve also gained an impressive collection of resource through completing the courses that I’m able to draw on.


How many hours a week do you spend on your studies?

Depending on the course load, 2 – 6 hours per week. I try to break it up, spend an hour or 30 minutes a day watching a video or doing readings. I find smaller time commitments work better for me (and less overwhelming) in completing the tasks associated with each module.