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Feb 14, 2011

Backpack to Briefcase: The Business of Science

On Wednesday, February 9, 2011 students from the Departments of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Mathematics and Physics gathered together for the second of three career events part of a series entitled Backpack to Briefcase.

This series invites Faculty of Arts & Science alumni back to campus to share their experiences and professional advice with students in a relaxed, social atmosphere. Students learn about different career options and develop the networking skills necessary for professional success. Alumni have the opportunity to interact with students, revisit their alma mater, and offer first-hand career guidance.


The Business of Science brought four young alumni back to campus to address students.

Ali Najmaie is a physics graduate who currently is Senior Manager (Market Risk Analytics) with Scotiabank. Mathematics graduate Colin Decker, followed a similar path working as an analyst with Alpha Group. Dan Schnabel has been a high school mathematics teacher for over 15 years and is an instructor for the senior group of the Toronto Math Circles. Allan Attard, an astronomy and astrophysics graduate who used computational models in his PhD research, now applies those skills as a technical consultant for ION Trading.


Physics and Astronomy Student Union President Ryan McGinn and Vice-President Patrick Antonacci, who served as the evening’s moderators, welcomed all to the session and each speaker then introduced themselves, telling the students about their transition from university into the job force and where their decisions have led them. The floor was then opened to questions from the students. And there were certainly many questions!


Although each speaker had chosen a different career path, it quickly became clear through the discussions that they had many things in common. Every one of them reiterated that a science degree from the University of Toronto was a very valuable asset and it opened the door to many varied and challenging career options. They explained how every person’s career path is different and often indirect, assuring students that every kind of experience can be worthwhile on their employment journey.  They encouraged students to seek out experiences and meet all kinds of people to create as many possible opportunities for themselves as they could.


After the formal portion of the career panel had concluded, many students stayed to speak personally with the alumni speakers who provided the students with guidance on their career questions. Students were delighted to receive such personal advice and encouragement from alumni who had only recently been students themselves. For more information about the Backpack to Briefcase series, please visit the Get Involved section of the Faculty of Arts & Science Alumni Circle Webpage: