The executive committee of the CIC Toronto Section (CICTor), led by Industrial Liaison Shakiba Ghaffari, hosted our annual Career Fair on Thursday, August 4th, 2022 from 10am-4pm at the North York Civic Centre (NYCC). We brought together 148 attendees and 20+ representatives from 9 different organizations, namely CERT Systems Inc, Mitacs, Chemical Institute of Canada, LGC, Eurofins CDMO Alphora, Gilead Sciences, Apotex, e-Zinc, and CannDelta. In this dynamic, interactive event, the NYCC’s multiple rooms featured company booths, oral presentations, a roundtable discussion, complimentary professional photography, a catered networking lunch, and even a raffle!
For many years, the annual CICTor Career Fair has been a central event in our ongoing commitment to proudly create bonds outside the laboratory through networking and professional development opportunities. Despite challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, CICTor experienced significant growth for as we began to take advantage of the power of online events, including hosting the 2021 CICTor Career Fair fully online. Ever since, CICTor has been regularly hosting a variety of online events such as the Student Awards Night, Public Outreach Talks, and Career Exploration discussions. With that said, two years of virtual events and zoom calls had left us with a longing for in-person meetings and the hope of once again making connections in the flesh.
With the chance to organize the first in-person CICTor Career Fair since 2019, we enthusiastically got to work. Leveraging the networks of our executive committee members, we sent out promotional emails to reach as many companies and potential attendees as possible and to let them know about the CICTor Career Fair and its offerings. At the same time, our Communications team built an extensive social media campaign to highlight the program, the participating organizations, and to increase the event’s online presence. This included our recently launched blog series called “Career Fair Spotlight,” where we share the stories and company culture from the employee perspective. The blog helped us go beyond the company description and allowed us to introduce our sponsors in a more in-depth and personal way to prospective employees.
When the day of the 2022 CICTor Career Fair finally arrived, ten company booths lined the walls of the Members’ Lounge of the NYCC: each organization’s logo was displayed prominently near a table featuring promotional material for distribution to interested Career Fair attendees. The attendees divided their time between connecting with company representatives at the booths, posing for professional headshots taken at the complimentary photobooth, taking part in career-focused oral presentations and listening to a roundtable discussion with the theme of #ShiftYourCareerForward, featuring Tiago Vieira (Director – Process Development, Gilead Sciences), Fletcher Agostino (Senior Research Scientist – Analytical Operations, Gilead Sciences), Shawn Postle, (Senior Consultant, CannDelta), and Vikram Bhatia (Chief of Staff, E-Zinc). The event also featured a raffle with prizes including coveted CICTor toques, tickets to the upcoming CICTor Beer Tasting Event, and a grand prize of National Bank Open Finals tickets.
Other highlights from the program included a welcome message from Trevor Janes, Chair of CICTor, followed by a supportive and uniting presentation from CIC Executive Director Josephine Tsang. Boris Gorin, Senior Scientific Advisor at Eurofins CDMO Alphora, delivered an engaging and informative talk that introduced the pharmaceutical industry. Shawn Postle’s presentation served as an effective introduction to what a career in consulting can entail, while highlighting the special suitability of folks trained in the chemical sciences. Alex Ip, Cofounder and CEO of CERT Systems Inc., presented impressive work on electrochemical CO2 conversion to renewable chemicals and fuels. Christopher Dixon, Director, Business Development at Mitacs outlined the ways that Mitacs helps students, postdocs, and recent graduates jump-start their careers using funding available through Mitacs’ internship programs. After Connie Tang presented, she was surrounded in the hallway by a group of young people keen to soak up more of her career wisdom. She commented: “I loved talking about professional development and career planning with CICTor. As a previous chemistry graduate myself, it’s amazing to see all the diverse interests and non-linear paths a career can take. For those who attended, I commend them on taking the biggest and hardest step with career planning: getting started!”
We asked several company representatives for some feedback on the Career Fair. Ivan Larcombe, Associate Director of Talent Acquisition at LGC wrote in an email: “I would classify the event as a categorical success. We were able to engage with a large number of potential candidates ranging from Bachelor’s students to working professionals. We have already made one direct hire from our interactions at the event but, more importantly, I believe, we connected with a number of bright grad and post-grad students to lay the foundation for future hires. It was wonderful to see our chemists who had volunteered to staff the event connect with the attendees in conversations that were generally enthusiastic about chemistry and the future of the industry.”
According to Allan Rey, Associate Director, Research Technology and Intellectual Property, Apotex Pharmachem Inc.: “The Toronto Local section did a tremendous job putting this event together – it was very well organized and the career resource talks were very helpful. It was a great opportunity for companies like Apotex to connect and meet Canadian talent.”
Vikram Bhatia, Chief of Staff at E-Zinc also appreciated the event: “We met numerous well-qualified, high-quality candidates at the career fair and we were impressed with the technical acumen of the candidates we spoke to. We feel that the event went a long way towards helping develop the chemical community in Toronto and make candidates aware of some of our electrochemical opportunities at e-Zinc!”
It is thanks to the generous Platinum sponsorship from LGC, Silver sponsorships from Gilead Sciences and CannDelta, and Bronze sponsorships from Eurofins CDMO Alphora, E-Zinc, CERT Systems, and Apotex, that allowed our event to be successful and productive. Looking to next year, we hope to expand to create even more bonds outside the laboratory, and continue to make our career fair a win-win event where both the participating companies and attendees leave more knowledgeable and fulfilled than they were before.
Written by CIC Toronto.
Career Fair Team:
Shakiba Ghaffari, Career Fair Team Lead