Meet Jessica Ulbikas
Jessica Ulbikas is in her fourth year at the University of Guelph, studying Nutritional and Nutraceutical Sciences (NANS). During her time at the U of G, she has been an Undergraduate Research Assistant (URA), and has held work study positions at the University Centre, Animal Sciences Department, and The Ontarion. Throughout several work-study, experiential learning, and volunteer opportunities including taking the Feeding 9 Billion course, being a Peer Helper, and volunteering at the Human Nutraceutical Research Unit, Jessica has gained a multitude of transferable skills including writing and research that she plains to use for her future career.
What was your role as an Undergraduate Research Assistant (URA)?
“My main role as a URA was to help develop a participant recruitment database for human research studies in the Human Health & Nutritional Sciences (HHNS) Department. Throughout the URA, I helped conceptualize the database, write a Research Ethics Board (REB) application, and design materials for the project (like posters).”
How did you get your URA position? Do you have advice for anyone searching or interviewing for a URA?
“I've had volunteer and work experiences that aligned with the URA role, and I happened to know my supervisor before applying. Making a connection with your future supervisor (even if you haven't met them before) is something that distinguishes you from many other students applying for a URA. Your supervisor can put a name to the face and get to know you instead of just seeing another name on a resume.”
What did an average day for you look like in each of your work-study positions at the University Centre (UC), Animal Sciences Department, and The Ontarion?
“A typical day at the UC was setting up reservation setups for events all over the University Centre and doing tasks in different departments in the building. A day working at the Animal Biosciences Department involved me driving to the Arkell Research station and assisting with feeding chickens that were being researched. Working at The Ontarion involved me proofreading various articles and editorials that would be published in the newspaper. Each position is very different from each other, but each experience I've had has been valuable!”
What has been your favourite moment from either URA or work-study?
“My favourite moment from my work-study has been seeing a physical copy of the first issue of the The Ontarion I helped with! I felt proud that I got to contribute to a newspaper that U of G students and people all over Guelph read.”
What was the impact of Feeding 9 Billion course? What did you learn from that experience?
“The Feeding 9 Billion course involved working on an interdisciplinary team to solve real-world problems related to food waste and food insecurity in the community. The experience taught me about the value of learning from other people who come from different backgrounds and who have unique experiences unlike mine. It also developed my passion for food insecurity!”
Tell us about your experience as a Peer Helper. Has there been anything surprising or exciting that came from this position?
“Being a Writing Services Peer Helper and facilitating writing consultations with first-year students has been rewarding. The position taught me to think on my feet, communicate more effectively, and be a better writer. I wasn't expecting to meet so many amazing people on the Writing Services team, but I'm happy I did!”
How have your experiential learning opportunities contributed to your career plan for the future?
“These opportunities have helped me to feel ready to enter a career after graduation. I've developed many transferrable skills (like independent learning, communication, and teamwork) that I hope to bring to my future career. Although having an undergraduate degree can help you get to a job, having experiential opportunities helps you thrive in a career.”