What program were you in?

I graduated with an Associates Degree in Bioinformatics with co-op.


Where did you have your co-op work placement?

My co-op was at Genome DX Biosciences, which is a company that focuses on prostate cancer. My job title was a Junior Software Engineer and I was with the company for the total of eight months.


What’s the biggest takeaway from your co-op experience?

Regardless of your skill set, I think having a really strong work ethic is sort of the biggest factor. Being determined and having the confidence to go out and get what you want really helped me to succeed.


What work are you doing now?

Currently I am working on a variety of research projects here at Langara one of which is researching the possibility of growing insects as an alternative protein source for humans and animals. I was previously working on a research paper looking at the invasiveness of european fire ants here in BC. My role was to utilize a variety of bioinformatics tools to visualize the genetic similarities between different species. It’s a lot of work, but I enjoy working on projects that relate together in some fashion. 

On the side I'm the co founder of a group called The Vancouver Biotechnology Venture Association (VanBVA). Our goal is to get students from a variety of different backgrounds together to talk about what’s required to succeed in biotech and entrepreneurship. Some have thought about entrepreneurship before and have an idea of how that might turn out, while others who attend have never though about this path before. The other aspect of VanBVA,  is that we bring leaders in various industries to our events to talk about their career journey.


How did your co-op jobs prepare you for the work that you’re doing now?

Prior to my co-op placement I had a strong background in Molecular Biology but I hadn’t taken a lot of computer science courses. I got up to speed very quickly for the latter since that was big part of my placement. Applying knowledge from both fields over the course of 8 months really increased my skills in both areas. I've been able to take what I learnt and apply it to finishing my degree as well as working on my own research projects.


Looking forward, where would you like your career to go?

My focus right now is on applying big data and machine learning techniques to biological data and problems. I feel that this path will really allow me to explore all my options down the road.


What would you say to someone who asks you about co-op?

Make sure that the positions you apply for will provide you with value even after you have completed you work term. When you start your job it's very easy to feel out of place but don’t sell yourself short. You do have the skills and the fun part is finding out how to apply them in real life. For me the exciting part was the perspective I gained both during and after my placement. When you return to your studies you'll have valuable experience you can draw from to determine “Okay, what am I learning and how is that going to apply to the real world?”