CAREER DEVELOPMENT  |  The Desjardins Centre for Advanced Training

Let us help!

The Desjardins Centre for Advanced Training is here to support trainees at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) on their way to a fulfilling career.

Desjardins Centre for Advanced Training (DCAT) logo

The Desjardins Centre for Advanced Training (DCAT) is the only program of its kind in Quebec that is situated at a health research institute.

DCAT provides career and professional development training opportunities to approximately 1200 research trainees at the RI-MUHC. Through a variety of events and training sessions, DCAT:

  • Exposes trainees to diverse career paths and options
  • Connects them with mentors in industry, government and academic centres
  • Creates peer communities for career planning
  • Offers training aimed at developing hard skills (e.g., project management, clinical trials management and operations) and soft skills (e.g., communication, business acumen).

Career advice

DCAT supports RI-MUHC trainees in these strategic ways, and more:

  • CV Review
  • Prepare for an interview
  • Job-hunting strategies
  • Career exploration tools
  • Referrals
  • Career planning
  • Skill acquisition

Contact us to schedule an appointment with a career advisor.

Emily Bell, PhD
Emily Bell, PhD

Associate Director, DCAT

Trainees can contact me for career advice, mock interviews, resume review, references and more.

Christina Farant
Christina Farant

Coordinator, DCAT

Contact me for Trainee newsletter and events.

Career development programs

The Desjardins Centre for Advanced Training (DCAT) currently offers RI-MUHC trainees access to career-focused programs. Each program is designed to help guide trainees to identify and achieve their desired careers. DCAT is focused on enriching RI-MUHC trainees with the knowledge of available careers outside of academia and helping them to pursue these careers through professional development.

Peer career programs

(Offered in collaboration with McGill’s Career Planning Service)

Peer Career Discovery Groups

Peer Career Discovery Groups

The Peer Career Discovery Groups (PCDG) program exists to guide trainees in their career exploration and preparation. Career exploration is an iterative process. In the PCDG program, trainees conduct self-assessments and engage in self-reflection with the goal of gaining insight into their strengths, interests and career preferences. Defining professional skills and interests not only helps trainees gain insight into their professional identity and relevant experiences, but also helps them identify goals and career path(s) that will be their “best fit.” While the program introduces trainees to the world of work outside academia, the group discussions are equally relevant for trainees considering faculty careers. Near the end of the program, the focus shifts toward supporting trainees in deepening their career planning with the creation of effective documents (e.g., CVs, cover letters) for the job search.

Over a series of five interactive workshops, trainees will

  • Actively engage in self-reflection through structured exercises to reveal individual strengths, values and interests
  • Engage in individual activities and discuss progress in groups
  • Work with a small group of peers to foster a supportive network for discussing individual strengths, values, and interests to gain additional insights and perspectives
  • Obtain information about a variety of career paths, both through independent research and networking with PCDG participants.

Contact us to learn how to register

Peer Career Interest Groups

Peer Career Interest Groups

The Peer Career Interest Groups (PCIG) program exists for trainees who have engaged in career-centric self-assessment and reflection and have a strong sense of a career path that they want to pursue. In this independent learning program, participants are grouped with like-minded peers sharing the same interests and working together to dive deeper into their career research.

Over a span of three months (the minimum duration of commitment required), participating trainees may

  • Actively engage with their peers to further their career knowledge in a specific area of interest, including the skillsets required and job market trends
  • Develop job-seeking strategies
  • Network with industry professionals
  • Prepare a defined career map of the various options and job titles within their chosen path.

To see if you qualify, reserve your appointment with a member of the DCAT team.

Pathfinders Mentorship Program

The Pathfinders Mentorship Program is designed to connect RI-MUHC trainees (i.e., graduate students, postdoctoral and clinical fellows) with professionals in the life sciences sector (both academic and non-academic), creating opportunities for trainees to explore their career options and receive career development advice. The Pathfinders Mentorship Program is a structured 4 month mentorship.

The Process

  • Mentees review basic information, request mentors.
  • Mentees’ requests are ranked based on their application.
  • Highest ranking mentee prioritized for first choice of mentor.

Become a mentor

Mentorship is an opportunity to offer advice and support to a graduate or postdoctoral trainee in a personal and unique way. The mentor’s role varies somewhat with each trainee. Mentor and mentee will determine their own relationship in terms of time commitment, goals and methods of communication (e.g., in-person meetings, email correspondence, video-conference).

The Pathfinders Mentorship Program is a four-month commitment between mentor and mentee. The goal is to expose trainees to different career options and explore the corresponding skillsets required to excel. The mentor’s role is to support the mentee and share knowledge gained from their own experiences. Mentors are encouraged to help mentees broaden their networks by sharing resources and advice to help prepare them for life outside the institute. Mentors also help mentees identify and enhance their marketable skills.

Becoming a mentor represents a unique opportunity to inspire and be inspired.

The mentor’s mission

  • Advice and support
  • Tips for success
  • Coaching and direction
  • Motivation and inspiration

How does it work?

  • Register to become a mentor.
  • Prospective mentees will have access to selected information such as your industry, profession, degree(s) and skillsets. All personal information will remain confidential until the match is made.
  • The mentorship match will last four months, beginning on a pre-selected start date determined by DCAT prior to the application process.
  • Once matched, mentee and mentor will have the freedom to determine a mutually convenient schedule of interactions.
  • Upon completing the term, both mentee and mentor will receive an evaluation form used to guide decisions in strengthening the program for future mentors and mentees.

Contact us to learn how to register for the next session

Become a mentee

Being a mentee comes with its own set of responsibilities. These include:

  • Initiating the mentor/mentee relationship, once matched
  • Knowing what to ask for from your mentor
  • Being respectful of your mentor’s time
  • Appropriately following up with your mentor.

How a mentor can help you:

  • Define career goals
  • Identify and build skills
  • Share experiences
  • Transitioning from academia

Contact us to learn how to register for the next session

The CRA Experience

Interested in a career in clinical and regulatory affairs?

The CRA Experience is a novel training program in clinical and regulatory affairs (CRA) that is designed to provide theoretical and on-the-ground-training. Participants complete a practical externship in the clinical trials environment under the supervision and mentorship of experienced clinical trials staff. This program aims to prepare trainees not only for careers as clinical research professionals, but also in regulatory and medical affairs.

The CRA Experience program involves theoretical learning and a practical externship in the clinical trials environment, with the following objectives:

  • Increase trainee knowledge of drug development, clinical trial design and regulatory processes relevant to the management and operations of clinical trials.
  • Provide hands-on participation in clinical and regulatory affairs in the context of clinical trials.
  • Help trainees understand the roles played by different members of the clinical and regulatory life science team and provide them with a training checklist for entry-level positions in industry.
  • Facilitate trainee acquisition of essential skills (hard and soft) required for a career in industry.

Applications are competitive and spaces limited. All applicants will be contacted individually to undergo an interview before admission.

The CRA Experience pilot program (2019-2020) is funded by a Career Guidance for Trainees grant from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.

Contact us for more information.

Graduate Certificate in Business Administration (GCBA)

(Offered in collaboration with the John Molson School of Business, Concordia University)

In collaboration with the John Molson School of Business (JMSB) at Concordia University, we provide trainees with a unique opportunity to develop business administration skills alongside their scientific training.

Why a GCBA?

  • Get the skills employers are looking for.
  • Expand the range of your career opportunities.
  • Develop business communication and presentation skills.
  • Gain practical skills that are transferable to disciplines other than your field of expertise.
  • Learn business fundamentals to better manage your staff, budget and all aspects of a lab beyond science-related matters.
  • Follow a flexible part-time or full-time schedule.
  • No prior work experience is needed.
  • No GMAT is required.
  • Choose from two application/admissions deadlines per year.

Info Sessions and Application Deadlines
Join us for a free pizza lunch in the spring to learn about the benefits of enrolling in the GCBA.
Admission possible for Fall or Winter Semester
Contact us for more information.

Career-oriented events

Career Half-Day

This unique opportunity allows RI-MUHC trainees the chance to network with life sciences professionals and learn about their individual career paths and job roles. In the morning, participants will attend a career focused workshop or a series of talks given by industry professionals. Participants are encouraged to attend the networking lunch where they will have the chance to move between tables at 20-25 minute intervals and speak with professionals from the life sciences sector such as medical writers, consultants, entrepreneurs, scientists and more.

When: Every Fall
Where: Glen Site 1001 Decarie Blvd, Montreal, Quebec H4A 3J1, Block E.
Room: Drs. Sylvia and Richard Cruess Amphitheatre

RI-MUHC Summer Student Research Day

Open to undergraduate students and visiting summer students who are currently conducting research with an RI-MUHC researcher.

Look, listen and learn about the research achieved by the summer research students and current trainees. In collaboration with the eight research programs of the RI-MUHC, this day offers summer students the opportunity to present a poster or an oral talk about their research, showcasing the diverse and exciting scientific research that happens every day at the RI-MUHC.

When: Every summer
Where: Glen Site 1001 Decarie Blvd, Montreal, Quebec H4A 3J1, Block E.
Room: Drs. Sylvia and Richard Cruess Amphitheatre

RI-MUHC Summer Student Workshops

Open to current and incoming graduate students and undergraduate trainees. The Desjardins Centre for Advanced Training offers a special training module for RI-MUHC trainees. Six weeks of weekly workshops on the topics of Research Ethics and Integrity and Presentation Skills are intended for undergraduate students, new graduate students and visiting research students. These weekly workshops are offered at no cost to summer students.

When: Every summer
Where: Glen Site 1001 Decarie Blvd, Montreal, Quebec H4A 3J1, Block E.
Room: TBD