Two minutes with… Katia Hougaard (Student Programme Leader – Master’s Programme)

The Graduate School has appointed Student Programme Leaders in order to give doctoral students the opportunity to engage with our Professional Development Programme and shape its design and delivery.

In our new ‘Two Minutes with….’ series we will be introducing you to our current SPLs and finding out their thoughts so far on the role!

Name: Katia Hougaard

Department: Life Sciences

Introduce your research: My PhD project focuses on the innate defence responses of plants against aphids, an economically important insect pest.

Student Programme Leader: The MasterClass workshop series with Dr Helal Ahmed

Why did you choose to apply for this particular SPL role?

While a MRes student at Imperial, I benefited greatly from the free Master Class programme offered to all Masters students. Based on my very positive experience as a student in the classes, I wanted to give back to the programme that helped me learn a variety of transferable skills. In addition, I am interested in gaining experience of being in an educator role for postgraduate students since one of my career interests is higher education.

Three things you’ve found interesting: 

Analysing and implementing student feedback, discussing wording and visual appeal of slides with Dr. Ahmed, and designing my own slides are 3 interesting aspects of this role.

Overall, being in the teaching role has been a new perspective on the learning experience.

Three things you’ve enjoyed most:

I enjoy co-delivering workshops on public speaking and presentation skills with Dr. Ahmed. Through this activity, I’ve gained experience in managing and leading a large group of students.

I also enjoy the planning discussions with Dr. Ahmed and other members of the graduate school.

I’ve additionally enjoyed reaching out to fellow students to learn their opinions on past and current Graduate School courses.

What impact have you had on the programme?

My contributions have made the public speaking / presentation skills workshop more interactive and hopefully more entertaining. I am also working on arranging a focus group to learn what students wish to see from the programme in the future.

What advice would you give to other students thinking of applying for the SPL role in future?

I would highly encourage any postgraduate student who is interested in being an educator to apply for this role. I would advise to approach the role with an enthusiastic and cooperative attitude to get the most out of working with your supervisor.

Why do you think professional development training is important?

I feel it is extremely important for postgraduate students to develop their transferable professional skills for any career they choose after their education at Imperial. The free courses are a valuable addition to any postgraduate studies, and an opportunity to meet students from across disciplines at Imperial.

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