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, Environmental Science, Minor International Relations, ‘15
Current Job Title: Associate Lawyer
Current Company/Industry: Dentons Canada LLP
Current City: Calgary
How does the major your studied in your undergraduate degree relate to your current work?
There are cross overs in my career where some of my environmental science knowledge pops up, given that many of my firm's clients are in the energy and oil and gas sector, but on a whole my major is not directly related to what I do. The skills that were developed during my undergraduate degree, however, such as analytical reasoning, critical thinking, and research are directly involved in my day-to-day. The skills I learned pursuing my major are what translates into my current work, not necessarily the exact knowledge or classes.
What choices did you make during your degree that contributed toward your career path today?
I pursued a minor in international relations which introduced me more to law and politics, but also allowed me to take a lot more courses outside of science, and from there I realized more of what I wanted to pursue as a career.
Did you have any meaningful experiences at UBC outside the classroom that helped contribute to your skillset?
I was deeply involved in UBC Science life when I was a student. Among other clubs and activities, I was a founding member of the Women in Science Club, I was a member of SCI Team, and president of the UBC Meal Exchange. All of these extracurricular activities enhanced my time management and practice management skills; they also improved my advocacy skills and public speaking skills. These activities also required me to work in a team for a common goal, which is what law is all about. In the field of law, you need to be efficient with your time and deliver excellent work quality for your clients. Involvement in extracurricular activities while you’re studying helps you practice these skills.
What advice would you give to an upper level Science student today?
Don't be afraid if your interests and passions do not align with your peers in science and you find yourself not wanting to pursue a career in the sciences. You do not have to be a doctor or dentist just because you have a science degree or came into your science degree thinking that was the career path you had to take. The skills you learn including studying for exams, researching for papers, and presenting group projects, are important and you may not even realize it but these skills are helping you build your future career in whatever it might be.
What kind of challenges did you encounter in your career after graduation?
In order to pursue my career as a lawyer, I went through an additional three-year JD program after my undergraduate degree followed by a year of articling at a firm. Law school in itself was a steep learning curve. I found that law school thinking was different than science thinking. When there is a math problem in front of you, there is usually one right answer. Law doesn't necessarily work like this; there may be a range of possibilities or reasonable solutions to a problem. Learning to think in this mindset took some time. Notwithstanding the learning curve, I truly believe that the strong background in research, writing, and critical thinking I developed during my science undergraduate degree helped me be successful in law school and now at my firm.
Does your current occupation align with what you had planned when you entered UBC? How about when you graduated?
My current occupation does not align with what I planned on pursuing when I entered UBC. I imagined that I would be somewhere in the STEM field once I graduated. I knew by around my third year I wanted to pursue a career in law and become a lawyer.
What is something career-related that surprised you after graduation?
Although you may be in a field completely unrelated to what you studied, there are moments when your undergraduate knowledge trickles into your career, and it is strange but awesome. An example for me was knowing all about carbon emissions when looking at new legislation and cases.
Do you have a specific career plan from now until your retirement?
I plan to continue in private practice. I work at a global full-service law firm and the plan is to continue down this way, progressing in the firm.
Pavin's last word:
A science undergraduate degree from UBC is a great step towards whatever career that may follow. Follow your passions and hopefully you will be in a career and role that fits you.
Do you usually work:
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In your current position, are you more:
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Responses have been edited for clarity and brevity.