Agnetha de Sá
Agnetha de Sá
Current Career/Job Title:
Current Company/Organization Name:
Where you were born?
Born in Dubai, UAE and moved to Vancouver, BC at age 8
Where do you live now?
Vancouver, British Columbia
If you pursued further education after graduating, what role did this additional training play in your career journey?
After graduating I completed an MSc degree in Experimental Medicine at UBC and a Master of Public Health degree at Simon Fraser University. I learned a lot about myself and what I wanted out of a career while completing these two masters programs. In the last year of my MSc I knew that wanted to go into public health, so after I graduated I chose the MPH program at SFU because it emphasized sociological studies, which I knew would complement the strong biomedical background I had already gained at UBC.
I also recently completed four Economic courses at UBC through non-degree studies to gain the economic knowledge, skills, and experience that I need to progress in my current career. A great thing about UBC is that after you graduate you can go back and take additional courses as an unclassified student.
Is your current career path as you originally intended?
No, I started the UBC Biology program anticipating that I would do an MD program after graduating. So I did all of the things that pre-med students should do – I volunteered at hospitals and pharmacies and did clinical research. However, participating in these experiences helped me realize that I didn’t want to pursue an MD. Then toward the end of my first graduate degree in Experimental Medicine I realized that I wanted to support the healthcare system in some way while also having flexibility and diversity in my career options, so I decided to go into public health.
What is your best career advice?
Be flexible. If you don’t know what you want to do, that’s fine. Take your time to figure it out and expose yourself to different opportunities. As an undergrad you have time to try out different things and explore options within your degree.
Also, apply for Co-op. I did the Co-op program and found it really helpful. It made me more unique as a biology student, helped me get my first job after graduation, and helped me figure out what I wanted and didn’t want to do career-wise.
What choices did you make at UBC that contributed to your career success/journey?
I tried out multiple things and explored different avenues to help me understand what I wanted to do after my degree. I participated in Coop, volunteered, and engaged in diverse opportunities, including things outside of Biology. For example, when completing my MSc, I participated in the Model UN, wrote for the Ubyssey, and mentored students in the UBC Research Experience (REX) program. I knew that having these different experiences would be important and would help me in the future.
How does your current job relate to your biology degree?
While my career is not directly related to biology, I do use some of the knowledge and skills I gained while a UBC undergraduate in my current job. In particular, I’ve been dubbed the “data queen” on my team because of my experience in quantitative and qualitative research. Earning a biology degree helped me to develop science literacy and to understand scientific methodology and the limitations of research studies. This skill set is especially helpful right now as I’m having to read a lot of scientific literature related to COVID-19 for my job.