Joanna Das Gupta graduated from McMaster University in 2018 with degrees in Labour Studies and Sociology. She now works at Apotex Pharmaceuticals as a coordinator of health services. We caught up with Das Gupta to see how McMaster set her up for success, the sense of home she felt on campus, and her favourite study spot.
When Joanna Das Gupta was deciding on universities, it was the sense of home she felt at McMaster that sealed the deal.
“I had done some other university tours before I decided on McMaster,” she said. “And I think what really cinched it for me and my mom was sitting in… the student center square right near Mills Library. And we were eating Willy dogs and the owner of Willy Dog was talking to us about how great Mac is and how he hopes he’d see me there in the fall because it’s such an amazing school. And we just sat there… and my mom was like, doesn’t this feel like home? And I said, ‘yeah, it really does.’”
And it’s a decision that she’s proud of, crediting her time at McMaster with helping prepare her for her current role at Apotex.
“I really loved my time at McMaster,” she said. “I was really involved… I made a lot of really great friends when I was at McMaster. And I think it really prepared me, particularly for this job, because I did a final project research paper with Labour Studies Professor Goutor, who is an amazing professor, and I was doing the statistics of human resources practices and how patient outcomes were stratified by employee engagement on nurses.
“Now all of my colleagues are nurses at my current job, so that helped me a lot. My boss actually said that my research that I had done at McMaster really interested her and really set me above all the other candidates!”
Das Gupta didn’t go straight from McMaster to her current role, but instead decided to continue her academic interests through a graduate program at Seneca College, which featured a co-op program.
That was vital to landing her current role, and she said that the new co-op program offered by the Faculty of Social Sciences will be a ‘game changer’ for current and future McMaster students, with the university providing support with interview skills, resume building and other crucial assistance.
“Co-op is a game changer because a lot of companies are going to tell you: “Well, it’s great that you have this degree… but if you do not have work experience and you don’t understand what it’s like to work in a team environment, you’re not setting yourself up for success”,” she said.
And that ties into Das Gupta’s broader advice for incoming students: take advantage of all the opportunities available at McMaster.
“Please go talk to your faculty office, talk to them about the kinds of events they’re offering, because there’s going be a lot,” she said. “Whether it’s resume critiques, interview skills, one-on-ones with professors, other sort of seminars about interesting topics in your field, learning about these things will give you access to potentially a greater network. You might be able to network with some of these speakers (and) you don’t know where people are going to end up post school.”
And that favourite study spot?
“The student centre! There’s a balcony out there that you can go and study up on that people don’t know about. It’s very nice and quiet. It’s beautiful in the summer,” she said.
“Be careful of the bees though!”