News & Events

A student’s reflection on the first semester of the MEL and MHLP program

June 7, 2023
UBC MEL MHLP Student Experience - Professional Development and Networking

Being a student in the Master of Engineering Leadership (MEL) and Master of Health Leadership & Policy (MHLP) is a transformative experience for personal and professional growth. The sector-specific curriculum equips graduates with industry-leading knowledge to advance in their careers, and professional development and extracurricular events offer opportunities to build networks and deepen soft skills.

Jessica Prakash, a student in the 2023 cohort for the MHLP in Clinical Education, shared her thoughts about the student engagement opportunities offered to MEL and MHLP students in the first semester. (Read our article on the added value of the MEL and MHLP programs.)

Setting goals and getting to know others

The three-day Welcome Week in January brings together all students from the eight MEL and two MHLP programs.

“In addition to meeting the staff and all other students, I appreciated the many small group activities,” says Jessica.

“We were asked to complete reflection exercises at the end of each day, such as thinking about and sharing our goals for the year ahead and the skills we bring to the program.”

That emphasis on reflection and personal growth isn’t a one-off exercise at the start of the program. Each month, students are asked to complete questions as part of their Career Portfolio. In January, students consider how they will build relationships with others in the program; in February, students are asked to reflect on how they are contributing to the broader MEL and MHLP community.

“You are asked to think quite broadly about yourself as an individual and how you’re approaching the program,” says Jessica.

“That extends to considering how you can bring that self-awareness to your learning and professional and personal interactions. It’s a valuable tool because as much as we want to be objective, there is no taking away your world view or the lens you bring to your leadership style. It’s important to be aware of your biases, blind spots and gaps – as well as knowing your goals and strengths.”

Professional development opportunities

Staff also organize frequent professional development sessions on topics including elevator pitches, time management and active listening. Although Jessica had not been able to attend many sessions due to her work schedule, she says those she has attended were interactive and informative.

Social activities

At the start of each year, MEL and MHLP students elect a Student Executive Committee that, among other responsibilities, organizes social events. Over the first three months of the year, these events have included Storm the Wall, a paint night and a potluck. Students also organize informal soccer meet-ups, running groups and other social activities.

MEL and MHLP students have access to an exclusive studio space that includes lockers and a kitchen.

“It’s nice to have a space on campus just for graduate students. And as someone who is working while going to school, if there’s a meeting I need to attend virtually, I can go in, pop on my headphones and do the meeting in the studio.”

Growing a diverse network

One of the things that drew Jessica to the MHLP rather than other professional degrees was its interdisciplinary curriculum of health-care and business courses. MHLP and MEL students come together for the business and leadership courses offered through UBC Sauder’s Robert H. Lee Graduate School. This means that small groups include team members with diverse professional backgrounds that could include health care, engineering, architecture and urban planning.

“Each team member has a different perspective as a result of their professional background and experience,” says Jessica.

“Being able to work on interdisciplinary teams is important – as a leader in health care, I am working with diverse individuals, not just other nurses or health-care professionals. The Sauder courses introduce completely different ways of approaching problems, and it’s valuable to integrate this knowledge into my work and everyday life.”

Ongoing professional development support

The MEL and MHLP’s investment in student success is demonstrated through the many professional development and student engagement opportunities offered throughout the year. One-on-one support is also available from Jessi Guerico (Career Strategist) and Bailey Kew (Manager of Student Engagement) for students who want to explore their career goals, obtain specific help on career search strategies or get feedback on a resume.

Learn more

Check out our career services and professional development and networking events to learn about the support offered by the MEL and MHLP, and read the articles in the student experience and alumni success areas of the website to see how others have benefited personally and professionally from these unique interdisciplinary graduate degrees.