Priya Makhijani, BSc’11
What was your first job after graduation?
My 1-year co-op/internship at Bayer Pharmaceuticals is what I consider my first job because it provided me with marketable cell culture skills. With these basic skills I was able to attract my first real employer: Harvard University. This was a 2-year long research technician position is where I did lots of advanced cell culture and learned about how high-level academic science is conducted. This was a key stepping-stone for me as I found a niche within science I could be passionate about: stem cell and regenerative biology. Currently, I am looking to begin graduate education at the University of Toronto equipped with high-level knowledge of this field. My previous position and related contacts are a huge leverage for both to my current and future prospects.
If you weren’t in your current job field, what would you be doing?
As science is, I would be in a field that is creative and technical at the same time. Creative photography or visual art would give me the same thrill I get when an experiment in the lab is able to show a new and beautiful perspective.
How do you make the best of all situations?
I can’t say that I make the best of every situation. But coupling the advice from professors at UBC, Harvard and U of T, I think the best thing to do is to take initiative. When you have a hunch about something, don’t just accept the situation or consider it some higher-up’s responsibility. Try to spell out your case as a rational argument and take active steps yourself or together with your team, to prevent any adverse outcome (might also be a good way to move up the ranks). My advice would be to voice your thoughts; your UBC-trained thoughts are very valuable. I am trying to do this not only for my team’s goals but for my life goals as well.
What is your best memory from your time at UBC?
This is the nerdiest answer you will read but: AMS Tutoring. There, on those wooden, graffiti-ridden tables in the SUB (do those even exist any more?), that’s where I got my education. With the Physics grad student tutors, I learned to not be afraid of what I didn’t know and to break a problem down thoroughly using known principles. And I learned about the gratification of solving something with hard work. All the fun at Place Vanier Residence has faded over time.
If you could go back in time, what would you do differently?
I would go back to my time at UBC and take more initiative there. I could have explored the wealth of resources available for my well-being and growth (some things you only realize when you’re no longer a student with all those privileges). There are tonnes of UBC groups/initiatives/research programs I could have participated in. I should have taken advantage of the richness available at UBC. I am glad that I have opportunities to add to UBC’s abundance as an alumna.