posted on Jan. 30: Getting a leg up on their careers


[img_inline align=”right” src=”” caption=”Annette Poechman and Steve Ewoniak”]You're a science major. You don't want to be a doctor and you're not sure you want to spend your days under a fume hood.

Where do you go for information on jobs, employers and possibilities that are specific to science? The new Science Career Services office.

In operation since May, the career services office is a joint project of the McMaster Science Society and science dean Peter Sutherland's office. Students voted in an October 1999 referendum to pay a $25 ancillary fee to set up the office and the dean's office kicks in a matching amount.

The service is meant to augment, not replace, the help provided by the Career Planning and Employment Centre.

“It was a conscious effort to make sure it's specific to sciences and not overlapping with CPEC,” said Steve Ewoniak, science society president.
“It's more targeted to jobs they would be looking for. We're not running career planning groups.”

Science Career co-ordinator Annette Poechman often starts a meeting with a student by asking them to describe an ideal day in the world of work.
“I ask them 'What does your perfect day look like? Are you in a small city? A big city? Do you like to be with people or prefer to work on your own?'” she says.

Poechman, a McMaster graduate with a master's degree in education, says her role as co-ordinator is threefold: she helps students pursue career exploration, develop employment preparation skills such as resume-building and the interview process, and markets McMaster students to science employers.

The main focus is “having a point of contact that is strictly science,” says Poechman. “Through Career Science they can get a greater understanding of the opportunities available to them with their science degree.”

This week, Jan. 29 to Feb. 2, is Science Career Services Awareness Week at McMaster. Information about the service will be handed out in various classes.

On Thursday, Feb. 1 the office is erecting a tent outside the Burke Science Building on the campus mall and Poechman and science society students will be handing out hot chocolate and donuts and answering questions.

Positions that might interest science graduates could range from pharmaceutical sales or analytical chemistry technician to biologist or intellectual property officer monitoring inventions that can be patented, she adds.

Poechman, who meets one-on-one with students, does critique resumes and guides students to job listings that they might not have found on their own. She also tries to link graduates who are working in various fields with prospective employees from the department. The service is designed to be available to students up to five years after graduation.

As well, the office has been hosting career forums for the various disciplines – physics, chemistry, biology, geography and geology, for example – within the faculty.

This time of year Poechman is busy, booking about five appointments with individual students each day. She also encourages students to visit her office located in Room 107, General Sciences Building. She can be reached at ext. 27921 or by e-mail at