Oct. 16, 2023

Career success in bite-sized chunks

Micro-placements offer students career advantages
(left to right) Safia Ihsan Ali, Tram Nguyen, Aayushmathi Ashok and Anna Gullacher.
(left to right) Safia Ihsan Ali, Tram Nguyen, Aayushmathi Ashok and Anna Gullacher. Anosime Imhoitsike

Developing transferable skills is a crucial part of working towards a fulfilling career. This was the common goal for University of Calgary students Aayushmathi Ashok, Anna Gullacher, and Safia Ihsan Ali when they started their content design development project with the First-in-Family mentorship program at the Student Success Centre (SSC). The program helps students who are the first in their family to attend post-secondary in Canada access campus information and build connection within the community.


Aayushmathi Ashok

As an honours undergraduate Astrophysics student, Ashok is continuing her learning beyond the classroom. After taking part in a research project at the James Webb Space Telescope she was drawn to apply for a micro-placement role to gain more experience in creative writing, design and collaborating with a team.

Ashok worked closely with other micro-placement students, who collectively conducted research on topics that are particularly relevant for incoming students. After generating a compelling list of topics, the micro-placement team learned accessible formatting and writing skills to ensure their content helps students understand their options and make informed decisions. Ashok created a tip sheet to help students understand the process, benefits and impacts of withdrawing from a course.

 “Micro-placements are a great way to explore your interests in a field without the pressure of a full work term.” Says Ashok. A key takeaway for her is the importance of incorporating feedback for effective content development.

Anna Gullacher

A passion for helping others and working in highly collaborative environments, inspired Psychology student, Gullacher to apply for the micro-placement program with the Student Success Centre. Through this opportunity she was able to learn how to incorporate accessibility into student resources. The flexibility of the position allowed Gullacher to take part in several micro-placements throughout her final year. She advises students interested in similar opportunities to “just do it! Find a project that interests you and try it!”

Safia Ihsan Ali

Ali, a Biomedical Engineering graduate student views the micro-placement program as an opportunity to enhance her skills and professional network. Her interest for exploring different restaurants in Calgary led her to pursue food insecurity supports available to university students in need.

During her placement, she was able to refine her communication skills and confidence. “These experiences offer a wide range of benefits, from skill development and networking to enhancing your resume. The timeframe and flexibility of these placements allows room to balance academic commitments while gaining valuable experience.” Says Ali.

Impact of micro-placements

Tram Nguyen, First-in-Family mentorship program coordinator, says “Students bring with them their educational experience, along with collaborative skills to work in team settings.” Students can provide unique perspectives when it comes to understanding and supporting student experiences at UCalgary. “I was impressed by their ability to present complex information in accessible writing, especially when explaining university policies.” Says Tram. Students developed tip sheets like Understanding the Withdrawal Process, The Impact of Wellbeing on Academic Success and a blog on the Power of Determination.

Students in micro-placement programs demonstrate a strong willingness to learn from feedback and collaborative throughout placements. “Their efforts have greatly contributed to the success of this project. Within each of their 35 hours of work, they created 11 new handouts and blogs which are wonderful resources developed by students, for students.”

All UCalgary students can leverage these resources to help them during their student journey.

Micro-placements allow students to get involved both on and off-campus. Through the program, students can explore various fields and areas of work, develop essential skills, connect with future employers, and complete resume-building projects. They also offer flexibility and are available year-round.

Learn more about micro-placements here.