Empowering trainees. Engaging alumni. The 2nd Annual MoGen Career Development Symposium was held on June 10th at the historic Chestnut Residence and Conference Centre. Dr. Leah Cowen and Dr. Julie Claycomb spear-headed the event and organized a day in which trainees could interact and seek mentorship from the breadth of extraordinary alumni in the Department of Molecular Genetics.
The Symposium kicked off with opening remarks from Dr. Howard Lipshitz and Dr. Leah Cowen and started with high notes such as “do what you enjoy and your life will turn out just fine”. The highlight of the day was a panel discussion consisting of some of MoGen’s most distinguished graduates. A wide variety of careers were covered with Dr. Kristin Baetz (Associate Professor and Interim Director of the Ottawa Institute of Systems Biology at the University of Ottawa) and Dr. Scott Dixon (Assistant Professor at Stanford University) providing insight on how they achieved their dream of landing an academic professorship position. Scott, in particular, emphasized that “perseverance is the #1 trait to success in academia and you just have to keep going”.
In terms of alternative careers outside of academia, there was a wide range of panelists, from Dr. Andrew Keeping (Supervisor, Development Analytics at ATCO Power Canada Ltd), who talked about transitioning from bench science to consulting and leading a business development team and Dr. Ainslie Parsons (Associate at Bereskin & Parr LLP) a patent lawyer. Even more outside the box, and demonstrating just how powerful a graduate degree can be, were Dr. Michael Szego (Clinical Ethicist and Manager, Centre for Clinical Ethics, University of Toronto), who pursued a bioethicist degree after his PhD and carved his own niche as a Clinical Ethicist, and Dr. Luc Marengere (Managing Partner at TVM Life Science Management Inc.), who went on to become a venture capitalist! A common theme throughout the day was that a graduate degree opens many doors, more than you may even realize. As Luc Marengere eloquently phrased it, “you just need to have conviction in what you believe in and the drive to follow it.”
Overall, the day ended with trainees excited and inspired about what the future holds for them and only a tiny bit of stress.