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January 2015

Getting an edge in your job hunt

Sometimes landing a job requires more than just expertise in a specific field. Having other knowledge and skills that can be applied to the workplace can give an applicant an edge over the competition. For Simon Fraser University postdoc Jacque-Lynne Johnson, taking a variety of workshops through Mitacs Step has helped open a new door in her career path.

As a research scientist in the Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Jacque-Lynne has devoted herself to studying cilia — tiny antennae found on the surface of cells, used for sensory processes, such as taste, touch, and smell. Understanding how cilia work is important because when they break down, a person can suffer a range of health problems, such as sterility, obesity, and neurological deficits.

Yet, in the midst of her research, Jacque-Lynne knew her career could benefit from other learning outside the lab.

In academic research, things are narrowly focused — you want to be in your lab doing research and reading about studies in your field. There aren’t a lot of opportunities for professional development. I became interested in Mitacs Step after hearing about it from a graduate student who’d enjoyed the experience.”

Jacque-Lynne started by enrolling in the networking course.

From there, she signed up for other courses, including intellectual property, entrepreneurship, project management, and business communication. And it wasn’t long before this exposure to skills outside of her field paid-off: Jacque-Lynne was hired by Innovate Calgary to work in intellectual property management, evaluating the potential of new life sciences technologies.

“The hiring process came down to me and another person, and — in addition to my scientific expertise — what tipped the balance in my favour was my participation in Mitacs Step. The skills I learned from the workshops are what employers are looking for.”

Mitacs acknowledges the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, the governments of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick for their support of Mitacs Step.

Interested in taking a Mitacs Step workshop? Visit to see a calendar of current workshops.