Take the next step in biochemistry (Issue 12, 2009)

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Professor Finlay giving students career advice

Wednesday, 24 June the Biochemistry Society at La Trobe University organised Next Step, a career event for the benefit of biochemistry and related disciplines students.

The organisers aimed to prepare students for the challenges that they may encounter on the job market. Six speakers from several departments, including faculties, alumni and careers offices as well as guests from external businesses were invited to talk to students and provide career related advice.

The event was opened by Professor David Finlay, the Dean of the Faculty of Science, Technology and Engineering, who talked about the personal characteristics students need to develop in order to be competitive and respond to industry demands.

‘Biochemistry professionals are now required more than ever before in Australia and worldwide. There is a lack of interest in this discipline from Australian students, which means good news in terms of prospective jobs for international students.’

Professor Finlay added that the department is looking at building into the biochemistry courses skills that will make students more competitive on the job market, such as communication skills, customer focused approaches, writing and presentation skills.

‘There are definitely a lot of openings for international students, but candidates need to develop the essential skills that Australian employers are looking for and should also show commitment and enthusiasm to their ongoing learning,’ says Abhishek Awasthi, who is studying a Master of Biotechnology and Bioinformatics and is also the President of the Biochemistry Society.

Professor Nick Hoogenraad, the Head of the Biochemistry Department, talked about the diverse range of career options available to graduates. He was followed by Mrs Anna Stansfeld, the Associate Director of
La Trobe Careers and Employment, who gave the students an insight into what networking is and how it can help their career progression. Alumni Relations Manager, Mrs Ruth Delagas, talked about the networking opportunities of being an alumni and Mr Hynda Feldman, Chemskill Manager, gave an insight into how to prepare for a job application and an interview.

The La Trobe Department of Biochemistry has a very strong research culture, with 14 current research groups, each supported by substantial external funding of more than A$7 million per annum. The La Trobe Institute for Molecular Sciences has just been allocated A$64.1 million by the Government and it promises to be a world-class facility for molecular science, biotechnology and nanotechnology research.