Bhavya Sabbineni is a 3rd year international student in Biomedical Engineering. She started small while networking by reaching out to people she already knew to learn about potential career paths and find future work.
How has networking with employers been effective in your job search?
During my previous job search, I reached out to several researchers in the genetics field for advice. I expressed my interest in their specific area of research and highlighted my past experiences and skills before asking for guidance. One of the researchers I connected with encouraged me to apply for a Work Learn project assistant position at GenCOUNSEL—part of the Elliott Lab at BC Children's Hospital Research Institute. After the interview, I followed up with a brief thank-you email to emphasize my interest in working with them. This thank-you email helped me stand out from other candidates and secure the position! Overall, networking has helped me get to know successful professionals in the biomedical industry and gain priceless advice on finding a suitable job.
What are your go-to networking tactics?
In addition to cold-emailing employers, I also follow up with them after every informational interview or networking event to reestablish a connection. For instance, after networking with recruiters from Fraser Health and STEMCELL Technologies at the Spring Career Fair, I connected with them on LinkedIn and learned more about the type of candidate they were looking for and potential opportunities for Co-op students.
Which UBC networking events did you find most useful?
The West Coast Virtual Fairs and Spring Career Fair held by the UBC Career Centre, as well as job fairs through the Applied Science Co-op Program. The West Coast Virtual Fair gave me the unique opportunity to have one-on-one meetings with employers I aim to potentially work with, such as Kardium and adMare BioInnovations. This helped me form meaningful connections with the recruiters, and gauge their interest in hiring me based on skills gained from my academic and professional experiences. I also got a better understanding of each company’s work culture from attending these events.
What differences have you noticed between networking in Canada and networking in your home country?
There are quite a few differences between networking in Canada and India, my country of origin. I’ve noticed that networking in Canada is more focused on one’s personality and the skills they offer. Although personality is also a key factor for successful networking in India, academic performance and educational background are given more importance. The concept of volunteering at companies as a way of building connections in your preferred industry isn’t highly appreciated back home. But in Canada, it's so much more important and seen as a valuable learning experience.
What lesser-known ways of networking do you recommend, and why?
Mentorship programs, volunteering, and staying in touch with professors. My current mentor at BCCHR helped me connect with several principal investigators who are conducting research in the fields I’m interested in! Building a good working relationship with professors is another important networking strategy. Beyond gaining academic support, connecting with professors during class and office hours can help you secure research positions, internships, and even reference letters for the future. I know of many students in my faculty who are currently conducting research with professors who’ve taught us in the past.
Could you talk more about the mentors you've had and how they've helped you?
I’ve had an upper-year student mentor within my faculty, and currently, a professional mentor at BCCHR. Both of my mentors have been extremely helpful to my personal and professional development. They’ve helped me refine my resume, connected me with potential employers, and provided me with constructive feedback and professional advice. My current mentor has also helped broaden my perspective on future career options and opportunities. There are absolutely no downsides to having a mentor, and they could even help you find your next job!