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SFU Alumni
Science
Chinook Therapeutics
Associate Director, CMC Project Management
Position Title
Story Faculty
Where did you complete your work terms and where are you working now?  

I completed four 4-month work terms at three companies: 

Maxxam Analytics (now Bureau Veritas) in Burnaby for 8 months 

While at Maxxam I worked in the sample preparation department where I extracted potential contaminants from environmental samples and prepared the extracts for testing by the analytical chemists, 

Angiotech Pharmaceuticals (now Corza Wound Closure) in Vancouver for 4 months 

While at Angiotech I worked in the Analytical Chemistry department where I learned how to use an HPLC, how to develop a method for testing a new compound on the HPLC and tested samples from the formulation group to confirm the correct dose of the medicine would be dosed in vivo.  

Pfizer in Connecticut, USA for 4 months 

While at Pfizer I worked in the Medicinal Chemistry group within the Cardiovascular, Metabolic and Endocrine Diseases (CVMED) department. Here I synthesized many compounds to show the breadth of a novel reaction my supervisor had invented as part of a project he was working on. The work that I did at Pfizer was published in a peer-review journal, so other chemists around the world can benefit from it too.  

I am now working at Chinook Therapeutics, based in Vancouver, as a CMC Project Manager. CMC stands for Chemistry, Manufacturing and Controls and in my role, I manage the project of manufacturing, testing, and ensuring quality and consistency of the material that is manufactured to be used in clinical trials and sold commercially.  

How did co-op help in your career journey?  

Co-op helped me immensely in my career journey. It gave me the experience during my undergrad to see what it is really like to work in a lab as a chemist (spoiler: it is very different, in a good way, than the lab classes), and what type of education I would need to secure the type of job I was looking for after graduation. It also helped me see that I preferred working in the lab as a synthetic organic chemist vs an analytical chemist.  

I earned my MSc in organic chemistry and I truly believe that my co-op experience gave me a leg up on other students graduating with their MSc. I was able to apply for jobs highlighting my MSc, and the ~1.5 years of experience working in industry during my co-op work terms. 

I started my career after graduating with my MSc, working in the lab as a synthetic chemist, and transitioned out of the lab to work as a project manager, managing a team of scientists in and outside of the lab.  

Even to this day, more than 10 years since I completed my last work term, I can understand and empathize what my colleagues in manufacturing and analytical are dealing with in their day to day, based on my experiences in the lab during my co-op work terms. I am very grateful I had the opportunity to work in multiple fields of chemistry during my work terms, which gave me a breadth of experience I could not have achieved as easily, if I had not been in co-op.  

Another skill that I gained as a result of co-op, which has stuck with me since I joined the program 15+ years ago is how to draft a cover letter and resume that stand out and sell my skills and highlight how I would be the best candidate for a position I am applying for. I thought my resume and cover letter writing skills were good before joining co-op, but they were thoroughly improved upon, and put to the test when I applied to all the co-op positions that interested me. As I sought out my international co-op work term, I was also given the opportunity to receive additional training on how to draft a cover letter and resume when applying to companies outside of Canada, which benefited me greatly and allowed me to secure a co-op position in the USA. 

What advice would you share with students considering the co-op program? 

You should join the co-op program – you won’t regret it! At the time I was considering joining the program, the cost to participate seemed like a lot of money, and wondered if it would be worth it. Looking back, the cost to participate was absolutely worth it, as it gave me experience in areas that I could not have imagined, and could not have gained without participating in co-op. 

I also remember my friends who graduated at the same time as me – the ones who participated in co-op had a much easier time securing jobs, and those jobs were at a higher level than the friends who did not participate in co-op.  

Once you join the co-op program and are in your work terms, you will also have the opportunity to talk to and network with colleagues and co-ops in other departments. This may open your horizons to careers that you did not even know about, but you find extremely interesting. I highly recommend asking as many questions as you can during your work terms and learning about the other departments and what they do.  

 

SFU Alumni
Chinook Therapeutics
Associate Director, CMC Project Management
visibility  181
Jun 9, 2023