AME Roundup: A Student Perspective

By Xueya (Elaine) Lu

Xueya (Elaine) Lu is a MSc student at the Bradshaw Research Initiative for Minerals & Mining at The University of British Columbia. Xueya is studying the potential of mines waste from mines around BC to trap and store carbon dioxide within secondary carbonate minerals through the process of mineral weathering, under the supervision of Professor Greg Dipple. She attended Roundup for the first time in January 2018. Here are her first impressions and insights for attendees in 2019.

What is the value of Roundup for you as an individual?

As a new international graduate student, Roundup 2018 was the first big conference that allowed me to meet and link myself with all the exploration and mining companies and industry members in western Canada. I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto, Ontario, and attended PDAC a couple of times previously, so I saw Roundup 2018 as good networking opportunity and cultivate new opportunities here on the west coast.

Also, Roundup 2018 was the first conference I attended after starting my Master’s degree in September the previous year. Being able to make and present a poster during Roundup 2018 allowed me to get a good overview of my project after four months of research and to hear how my research fits the industry and which direction is likely to progress in terms of real application in the industry. Talking with people of various backgrounds regarding my research project, I was inspired by new ideas and motivated to take my project to the next level.

Roundup provides a quick and easy way for me gain information and catching up on the latest, trending topics and news that people and industry are interested in. It is beneficial for me personally because then I can look back at myself and see what some of the qualities are missing, knowledge gaps and what is new to learn, to make sure I am not falling behind from the rest of the group and as a student.

What are the ups and downs of job hunting at Roundup?

Something I noticed as a first-time participant at Roundup last year is that all industry members are very open to talk about job hunting and related topics. Most people are open and friendly, willing to share their contact information, business cards and even potential job opportunities right away after engaging in a successful conversation with a student. I found that I need to take the initiative to ask and to express my interests in any potential interesting job opportunities, show passion and be more open as well as approachable.

There are of course difficulties also. I remember as a new master student last year without much work experience or connections within the industry, I found myself feeling lost in the conversation sometimes, or having trouble engaging in conversation to keep people interested. I also felt anxious about coming across as too aggressive with respect to job hunting. I thought a lot about how to approach people and introduce myself to them so that I will leave a good impression.

What actions helped give you confidence as a student at Roundup?

I found my situation as an undergraduate student attending PDAC in Toronto during the past years much harder than my experience with Roundup last year. My personal upgrade from an undergraduate student to a master student certainly helped. I find having an affiliated research group (such as MDRU and BRIMM) rather than just the name of the university written on my badge helped make me more approachable.

The fact that I have an official business card with UBC, MDRU and BRIMM logo and title on it makes me look (and feel!) more professional. I was also able to represent BRIMM and stand at the innovation hub booth to talk about my current research and share my knowledge and spread my name in a different way. All of the above helped me to be taken seriously as a student and a potential hiring target for a company.

During the past two years as a master’s student, I have also learned so much through taking courses, working on my thesis projects, talking to people in various areas and disciplines. All of these experiences allow me to build up many more personal skills, acquire more knowledge and information which allow me to be taken more seriously as a student.

What are valuable programs for students at Roundup?

During Roundup 2018, I presented a poster of my master’s research at the poster session that allowed me to engage in a number of interesting conversations with people. I also signed up for the Geometallurgy Short Course where I gained new knowledge that will help with my research, as well as making connections with industry members who are interested in a similar field. I have also attended the student-industry networking event.

All of these programs for students are great for making connections and making good use of my time during Roundup. For the upcoming Roundup 2019, I have also submitted a new poster with more updated information and entered to participate in the Roundup Student Soapbox talks. I think these are valuable programs that Roundup offer for students and overall there are many networking opportunities and helpful technical sessions that will enhance students’ experience

Advice on how companies can best leverage access to students at Roundup. What would you like to see?

As a second-year master student, I am looking to graduate soon with more skill sets and potential career opportunities. Therefore, Roundup 2019 offers a great platform for me to reach out and gather information to be successful in my career. I think companies would have more opportunities to interact with students if they actively come to all the student-friendly events, attend events like the poster session, student-industry night etc. to encourage students to speak up about themselves. I would encourage companies to be more straightforward and clearly express their interest in giving out potential career opportunities.

Maybe roundup could start a program inviting all companies who have job openings to hold their own career info sessions during the conference. This way, students will be able to know about the company, what they are looking for and the jobs that are available. Info sessions are also an open atmosphere for students to talk about career opportunities to avoid confusing, misleading and embarrassing conversations.

Photo Credit: BRIMM

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