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Students taking professional development into their own hands

By Kathryn Clancy and Sebastien Dery

"What do you want to do after?" In any level of education (undergrad, masters, PhD) you will receive this question (even if just from yourself). Odds are if you're anything like me you've had (or have) very little clue what to answer. There are simply so many great positions out there and very little knowledge on how to get them.

Truthfully, it's unlikely a single step-by-step process will work for everyone. Yet here are two questions to reflect on before you can properly answer your relatives when the question inevitably pops up at your next family gathering;
1. What options are available to me?
2. What options best suit me?

Recognizing that these questions torment the subconscious of our fellow students, we've organized a Biological and Biomedical Engineering (BBME) Symposium to not only facilitate answering these questions but also help pursue new opportunities! Biological and Biomedical Engineering lies at the intersection of the medical optics, imaging, signal processing, biomaterial, clinical, and biosensor field. This is a multi-center symposium focused on providing professional development to this rich and diverse field.

Know your options
There is hardly a better way to know a field than to talk to people in it! The BBME Symposium kicks off by networking with your fellow attendees. Don't know what this means or what to do? We got you covered! For everyone to get the most out of the weekend, we start with a ‘Networking at Conferences' workshop to give everyone tips on building connections and opening doors.

Four distinguished lecturers, from different research areas and background will share their insights on multiple topics ranging from science dissemination to nanoengineering. Poster sessions and 3-minute thesis competitions are also on the menu to enable participants to practice their presentation skills and showcase their work to each other. Looking for new opportunities? PI's and industrial sponsors are listening.

Know thyself
As the saying goes "sky is the limit" but that doesn't mean all opportunities are right for you. Self-reflection and a better understanding of the motivating factors behind successful academic and industrial careers will be a highlight of our panel discussion.

Different personalities often require different approaches when it comes to communication. In our ‘Emotional Intelligence' workshop, participants will learn to understand the role of emotions in conversation and how to approach them to build constructive conversations. Learning how to express one's feeling in formal settings, understand others responses and become efficient communicators are the goals set for all attendees of this session!

Successfully pursue your options
Feedbacks are a crucial step in improving oneself. The truth is you'll have a harder time figuring how to better yourself if you don't know there's something wrong in the first place. That is why both our posters and 3-minute thesis competitions have mandatory 2 positives for 1 negative feedback system from our judges. Both the scientific content and delivery will be on the line for improvement!

Not sure how to take those feedback to profit? No worries. A ‘Presentation Skills' workshop focusing on style, manner and impact will help your prepare for that next big presentation.

Ultimately, we want students from different background to share their knowledge, passion and insights. To facilitate this exchange in a friendly environment we are also hosting two networking events.

Come prepared to develop and enhance your presentation and networking skills while meeting your scientific peers. Whether you are looking for new opportunities, meeting new people, or discussing groundbreaking science, this is an event not to miss!