Career Exploration Video & Audio
Career Conversations Panel:
Discovering Careers in Chemistry
Recorded March 22, 2012
During this panel, professionals with degrees in Chemistry shared their personal stories about breaking into the field, how their career paths took them from graduation to where they are now, what knowledge, skills and experience helped them succeed in their jobs and what types of opportunities are available in the field.
|Chemistry Panel: Full Session|
VOC Research Chemist, Environment Canada
Alumnus: BSc Biology, York University, 1984
Chemistry has always been the backbone of my work life, whether as a chemist, air quality consultant, or salesman. Although an interest, not a passion - a "career" rather than a "calling" - it has provided food and shelter, paid tuition for multiple degrees, supported my second career as a visual artist, and taken me to the North Pole. Chemisty has managed to infiltrate every activity and hobby in my life. I am sure it is either genetic or addictive!
|Chemistry Panel: Peter Brickell Intro|
Teacher, Toronto District School Board
Alumna: MEd Education, York University, 2009
I believe disappointments are often tools to set us on the right path. After earning a degree in Biochemistry, I applied to medical school. To my disappointment, I did not get in so I decided to pursue a career teaching chemistry. Fifteen years later, I can honestly say that was the right decision because I truly enjoy what I do. I especially enjoy helping my students develop their critical thinking skills.
|Chemistry Panel: Karen Johnson Intro|
Nan Li, PhD
Senior Scientist, Sanofi Pasteur
10 years ago when I was about to defend my PhD thesis, I asked my supervisor why I still felt clueless about research. He looked at me and said – 'because you really have just started'... I think I now know what he was trying to teach me. Doing science is a long, slow and sometimes boring process. It takes a lot of courage, patience and commitment. However, it is also fun and rewarding. I enjoy what I do everyday as a scientist and am proud to see my work, together with many others, end up producing better vaccines and improving health for people around the world.
|Chemistry Panel: Nan Li, PhD Intro|
Manager - Core Lab, Gamma-Dynacare Medical Laboratories
Alumnus: BSc Biochemistry, York University, 1982
I started out in an entry-level position, and using the advanced knowledge obtained at York, I was able to rise up to a management position and become an invaluable member of one of the largest and most respected medical laboratories in Canada. Every day, we help tens of thousands of patients and healthcare providers by delivering high-quality laboratory services to support patient care. We work with governments, hospitals, industry and other key stakeholders to benefit and improve Canada's healthcare system. We have become one of Canada's Top 100 and Greater Toronto's Top 90 employers. I not only manage the scientific aspects at night, but also I am responsible for managing human and technological resources, as well as the training and improvement of numerous staff.
|Chemistry Panel: Kevin Nickson Intro|
Associate Lawyer, Technology and Intellectual Property Department, McMillan LLP
Alumna: BSc, York University, 2007
I never expected to become a lawyer, especially since my undergraduate studies were in a field of science, however I am very glad that I did. It turns out that a scientific background is very sought after in the field of intellectual property law, in particular patent law. A patent is a 20-year monopoly given by the state over an invention which is novel, useful and non-obvious. A knowledge of chemistry is essential in patenting a chemical invention, and therefore a patent lawyer requires a working knowledge of both the law and the science behind the invention.
|Chemistry Panel: Joanna Vatavu Intro|
Questions & Answers
What should a student take in university to work in the field of Chemistry?
Is there any advice you would give to students about acquiring certain skills that may be required in the field?