Science Panel: There is no plan?

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Science Panel: There is no plan?

By: Kelsey Newsham | WIL Student Advisor
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For three SFU Science Alumni, the road to success was a windy one. While each of them experienced roadblock and detours, none foresaw the opportunities and open doors that awaited them post graduation. The Alumni recently sat down with Science students to share their adventures.

Mike Raimondi, Product Manager with Neova Technologies, began university with a rocky start. After graduating from high school with good grades, Mike assumed his university courses would yield the same results. "Unfortunately, when I hit the first year, I got slammed. I found it challenging and had to work harder than expected." Mike bounced back quickly, majoring in Cellular and Molecular Biology with a minor in Business and set his sights on working with Bio companies after he graduated.

"I had this idea that I'd start volunteering with a company in the biological industry and they'd hire me after graduation. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. A lot of companies are looking for related work and volunteer experience and as a third year student I didn't have any." To add more weight to his resume, Mike enrolled in theCo-op Program and walked away with a year of work experience and a job offer upon graduation. "I did one of my co-ops with Neova Technologies and since I had the experience, the training and they had already seen my work, they hired me back. Co-op helped me cross over into the career world for me."

If you had told Jim Rahe that his career world would entail the Apple Orchard industry, teaching at SFU and going to graduate school, Jim may have said you were crazy. Starting university in the United States Jim found himself in a sea of choices, "the world gets bigger when you're at university and suddenly I was exposed to new options. The key is to be okay with changing your major or focus."

After graduating, Jim headed to the US Army. When his unit stopped by his old university, Jim dropped in to see a favourite professor. His professor encouraged him to attend graduate school but it wasn't until he mentioned graduate students leave the army 90 days early did Jim take interest. He filled his application out that day. "You really have to jump at the chances you're given, I saw the opportunity to get out of the army and I took it."

After graduating with a PhD, Jim was offered a position with SFU, a university he knew little about. Jim's leap of faith paid off. After 35 years with SFU Biological Sciences Jim retired and began a new career path; owner of Annie's Orchard. "When I retired from SFU, I had something to go to, not something to walk away from. I simply began another adventure on my career path and that's what it is, an adventure."

Adventure wasn't something Diane Boyle, Veterinarian, Animal Health Technology Program instructor, had planned for. Her career path was set; four years at SFU followed by four years at Veterinarian school. What could go wrong? "First, I didn't work that hard during my first year in university. Then again, I didn't realize I had to. I thought I'd put in the same amount of work and get the same grades as I did in high school." Picking up the pace, Diane graduated and headed to her Veterinarian Program interview. What happened next wasn't part of the plan.

The interview panel came back with a surprising conclusion. Her application was denied. "The shocking part was that I was denied because they thought I was too shy" Taking it all in stride Diane set off for a year of travel. "Hiccups are a part of one’s career path. Plans change and as a student it's important to be flexible as it can lead to new opportunities. I ended up having a great time traveling during that year."

After twelve months and a whole new set of experiences behind her, Diane was accepted to the program and began a private practice in Vancouver. Recognizing a void in the industry, Diane began inquiring about Veterinarian nurses and found a new career opportunity. "Part of where I am now came from being curious. Pursue that curiosity. It led me to a career as an academic - one that I would not have predicted or planned."

While each of these Alumni walked different paths, all agreed that there is no set plan. Jim Rahe explained it best, "I got to where I am because I never walked through a door that I wasn't interested in."

Posted on January 24, 2011