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Yvonne Hung, PhD

Graduate Program Coordinator
McGill Writing Centre at McGill University in Montreal, QC

To develop a set of skills that would allow her to work across traditional disciplinary boundaries, Dr. Yvonne Hung decided to complement her education with a series of tertiary training activities. From curriculum development to program evaluation, Hung constantly branched out of her comfort zone while finishing her doctorate in Environmental Psychology at the City University of New York. Now working at the McGill Writing Centre, she coordinates a writing and communication program designed specifically for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.

1. Can you describe your career path since you graduated?

The first major position I had after completing my doctorate in Environmental Psychology was as the Training and Evaluation Lead for a research ethics board in Los Angeles.  Given my work in program evaluation and my research on youth participation in urban settings in New York City and Berlin, this job was an excellent place for me to explore issues of participation in a new context with a different set of stakeholders. When I moved back to Montreal, I used my experience as a graduate Writing Fellow, charged with developing writing pedagogy and curriculum, to move into my new role as Graduate Program Coordinator at the McGill Writing Centre.

2. How do you incorporate geography into your work?

My training and my research on the geographical imagination continue to shape my professional life. When I came into my current role, I reflected on the social and environmental setting in which this program existed. As I roll out new initiatives, I am conscious of how this program resides in the university.  A more concrete example is how I organize our multi-day writing retreats.  During my studies, I researched community gardens and explored how urban nature shape can provide space for repose, reflection and renewal.  These are elements that I integrate when creating social and physical spaces for students to write productively.

3. What skills do you wish you learned during your education that would help you in the job market today?

Given that I am not active on sites like LinkedIn or Facebook, I am probably not as adept as others to incorporate these tools into our program. Understanding social media and online networking was not a pressing concern for me back then. If I were to go back, I would have taken steps to developing a professional online identity so as to do outreach and networking, and to participate in ongoing dialogues. 

4. Do you have any advice for students wishing to attain a fulfilling career in geography?

Do not be button-holed into an idea of what geographers can or should do. Your education will have expanded your knowledge of space and place, teaching you how to make sense of a place, how it came to be, our role in it, and what that place could become. Therefore, I urge you to be open to career choices that validate and nurture that burgeoning geographical imagination. Even if you don’t end up with geographer as your job title (and some of you may not want that anyway), a career using the gifts of your training in geography can be just as meaningful. 

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