Career prospects are top-of-mind for graduate students, and internships are essential to connecting them with industry opportunities.
Biomedical engineering students at the University of Calgary recently began participating in the MedTech Talent Accelerator Program, which bridges the gap between post-secondary education and the workplace by helping students obtain internships related to their research studies. The program initially started with McGill and Toronto Metropolitan universities, with UCalgary the first to join in the national expansion that started two years ago. The program now also includes the University of Victoria, University of British Columbia and Dalhousie University.
To apply, eligible graduate students must complete all their coursework requirements and research, and be in the writing phase of their thesis by the appropriate dates outlined by Experience MedTech. From there, they take online modules to prepare them for industry positions and must be ready to accept interviews and internships offered by MedTech company partners for a four-to-eight-month period.
"We take pride in providing opportunities for students to get hands-on industry experience," says Dr. Michael Kallos, BSc (Eng)’95, PhD’99, head of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the Schulich School of Engineering, which has joined the program on a pilot basis. "This program is a unique experience for our students which also allows them to grow their personal networks with industry partners."
Connection and impact
Members of the program’s first UCalgary cohort say the experience and expertise they had access to will undoubtedly change the trajectory of their careers.
Master of Science candidate Youssef Beauferris, BSc (Eng)’21, and graduate Jak Loree-Spacek, MSc’21, were both placed with HelpWear Inc., a company that develops wearable heart-monitoring systems for prevention and better treatment of heart-related illnesses.
“The experience I have had with the MedTech program has been very positive,” says Beauferris. “It enabled me to acquire my first professional experience within the biomedical technology industry. Arguably, this opportunity that MedTech has given me was one of the most career-defining.”
Similar sentiments are echoed by Loree-Spacek.
“I got the impression that the people running the MedTech program are very familiar with (and very well-connected within) the Canadian MedTech innovation industry,” he says. “The accelerator program did an excellent job matching me up with companies for interviews. I've done job searching independently both before and after, and the ‘fit’ I got with my current employer (HelpWear Inc.) is better than I could have imagined.”
A future full of promise
Both say the hands-on experience they gained in UCalgary’s Biomedical Engineering graduate program helped prepare them for this opportunity to learn in the field.
“I would point to three major things that my studies at UCalgary helped enhance: time management skills; the ability to critically engage with and provide feedback on teammates' projects; and the ability to rapidly and effectively gather knowledge on an existing scientific field,” says Loree-Spacek.
Looking to the future, adds Beauferris, “I also plan on continuing my career with HelpWear beyond the duration of my current internship.”