Science Alumni Profile: Maisie - Biochemistry, '06

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UBC Science alumni have gone on to build meaningful and fulfilling careers in sectors around the world. Our conversations with alumni have told us that your journey through Science and beyond isn’t a linear path but a complex navigation of right and left turns, and even some dead-ends, that will eventually lead you to where you're meant to be.

Our Science Alumni Spotlight Series will show you the breadth of career paths that UBC Science alumni have pursued, and offer a fresh perspective on new opportunities to discover.



BSc, Biochemistry, ‘06

Current Job Title: Academic Advisor

Current Company/Industry: Simon Fraser University

Current City: Burnaby

What does your work space look like today?

How does the major your studied in your undergraduate degree relate to your current work?

Though what I studied is not particularly relevant to my current position, my journey has somewhat brought me full circle. For the first 12 years after I graduated, I used my scientific knowledge and laboratory skillset to further my career in biotech across a number of roles. With the end of each role/chapter, I was able to pivot, take what I learned at my previous jobs and adapt in new positions and departments. I have participated in Alumni Networking Night for a number of years and I came to realize that I have a passion to work with undergraduate students. So I made a huge career change, quit my job and began work as an admin assistant at SFU in 2018, which then opened a door to become an academic advisor.

What choices did you make during your degree that contributed toward your career path today?

Early on, I knew I wanted to apply my acquired skillset and do lab work in the biotechnology industry. At the end of my third year, I cold-emailed all the biotech companies in the Lower Mainland and heard back from one organization, the largest pharmaceutical company at that time. Because I made the effort and put myself out there, I was able to secure a job for the summer and continued there during my fourth year. This was critical in jump starting my career in biotech, prior to graduation.

Did you have any meaningful experiences at UBC outside the classroom that helped contribute to your skillset? (i.e. clubs, co-op, Go Global, work experience, etc.)

During my undergraduate career, since the end of my first year, I was involved with Imagine UBC as an Imagine Senior Orientation Leader. I loved getting to know my fellow student leaders, especially since we were all from various undergraduate programs at UBC. Participating in all of the leadership and teamwork workshops during those 3 years were invaluable.

What advice would you give to an upper level Science student today? What do you wish you knew before graduation?

I would say to use technology to your advantage! There is so much available at your fingertips that wasn't there just 10 years ago. Ask alumni their stories through LinkedIn or Ten Thousand Coffees. Use their perspectives and their failures as learning events. And always say "yes" to opportunities if it helps you further grow in life, particularly if it aligns with your values and goals. You never know where it'll take you!

What kind of challenges did you encounter in your career after graduation?

During my fourth year, I was hoping to continue in the pharma company I was working at; unfortunately, there were massive layoffs, so I felt like I had to start from scratch again when applying for jobs after graduation. The search took a bit longer than expected, and it was not in the department I initially wanted, but I made the most of my first job after UBC and learned everything I could in the position. This mindset has been important for me throughout my unique career path, and helped me be more adaptable and acquire a variety of transferrable skills.

Does your current occupation align with what you had planned when you entered UBC? How about when you graduated?

I was certain with what I wanted to do with my career. When entering and leaving UBC, I envisioned myself in the biotech industry; however, I should have realized during my time as an undergrad that I loved leadership opportunities and helping others. My career change and current occupation better aligns with these values.

What is something career-related that surprised you after graduation?

How volatile everything is. Growing up, I was used to seeing my parents' generation having a "forever" job, where they would work 25+ years at one company. Companies, working environments, technologies, and people are changing, so enabling yourself to pivot or being the change is key.

Do you have a specific career plan from now until your retirement? If yes, what's the general plan; if not, in general what do you think your future might include?

I would love to learn a lot of the inner workings of post-secondary institutions. Then eventually (and hopefully) end up as a career development advisor or coach, who works with post-secondary students to help them discuss their career options, so that they can follow their dreams and be their authentic selves.

Maisie's last word:

Never stop learning and never stop challenging yourself :)

Do you usually work:

Do you do most of your work:

In your current position, are you more:

Do you find your work is:

Responses have been edited for clarity and brevity.

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