The Student Biotechnology Network (SBN). Making your Biotech Goals a Reality.

By Tara Fernandez, PDF, Conway Lab & SBN Social Media Manager  

Considering a career in the biotechnology industry? For many, this can be a daunting prospect, particularly when transitioning from an academic research setting. Building a portfolio of skills and effective networking are absolutely critical. But where does one start?

Thankfully, the Student Biotechnology Network (SBN) is here to help. Driven entirely by students and volunteers, this not-for-profit organization was founded to act as a helping hand for STEM graduates wanting to explore their career possibilities in industry. Top executives from various life sciences corporations in British Columbia, such as Zymeworks, Pacific BioVentures and Genome BC, make up the Board of Directors – keeping the SBN’s vision and direction relevant to local trends in the biotechnology sector. The SBN member base is made up of everyone from students and postdoctoral researchers to faculty members and technical researchers. These members hail from a variety of disciplines, including the life sciences, engineering, commerce and law.

The SBN organizes regular events for members throughout the year, which are invaluable for anyone interested in getting first-hand insights into life in the biotech sector. For example, through SBN’s networking events like Building Biotech, attendees engage in dynamic discussions with a panel of experts. In 2016, the theme of this discussion was Challenges of New Entrepreneurs in Biotechnology. Besides hearing about personal accounts and getting pearls of wisdom from their entrepreneurial journeys, members also got the chance to speak to the panel members one-on-one. For many, this ignited new career aspirations and motivated them to explore different entry pathways into biotechnology businesses.

2017 is shaping up to be a busy year for the SBN, with a series of exciting events already lined up. To kick things off, the SBN hosted a Networking Night at Mahony and Son’s on January 26th as an opportunity to connect with mentors from the local biotechnology scene over a cold beer. Students brought questions about where their degrees might take them and the positions available to them in both academic research and industry. These sessions are lots of fun and are a fantastic way to meet and chat to people in an informal setting, for those who may find formal networking a little intimidating.

SBN Executive Committee

Linking up with industry professionals is an excellent way to get insider information about career prospects. However, the SBN is also working hard to forge meaningful and ongoing student-mentor relationships through their Mentorship Program. The goal of this program is to assist members in mapping their career goals, developing their leadership potential and widening their networks. Past mentors have included CEOs of biotechnology companies, patent lawyers, entrepreneurs, project managers and business developers – all of whom are committed to helping you reach your career objectives. Interested applicants should register on the SBN website as soon as possible, as spaces are limited!

Since the inaugural SBN Biotech Expo in 2002, this event continues to showcase the best and the brightest of the BC Biotech and Life Sciences industry. The 2017 expo, held at UBC on February 23rd, will undoubtedly continue this tradition, bringing together industry booths, keynote speakers and formal networking sessions. This is yet another stellar opportunity for SBN members to stand out from the crowd and receive exclusive information about career openings in BC’s flourishing biotechnology sector.

Want to get involved? The Executive Committee serves to inspire SBN members by creating innovative solutions to unite industry and academia. Several CBR members are currently serving on the committee. If you are looking to strengthen your communication skills and gain valuable experience in everything from project management to corporate relations, join the team!

In the meantime, keep up to date with the latest SBN news and happenings on our website, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.