McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Workshop to help research staff learn to plan careers

Published: March 22, 2007

Working in a health sciences research environment offers employees the chance to be at the cutting edge of exciting new developments and discoveries in the health care field.

But it also comes with a unique set of challenges that often requires those working in the field to navigate and adapt to substantial changes in their career paths, due to both the ever-changing nature of the work and the transitory funding system.

A newly developed workshop aimed specifically at helping the many health sciences employees who work in research-related jobs develop career resilience skills will be offered next month.

The human resources department of the Faculty of Health Sciences has partnered with McMaster University’s Employee Career Services to create the half-day workshop, being offered on April 18.

The workshop will help employees take stock of their talents, and ensure they have or can develop the skills needed to manage their careers as a result of changing workplace trends. Participants will learn to assess their career resilience characteristics related to attitude, skills and knowledge, and acquire techniques to manage their careers during changing times.

The workshop will be conducted by Sonia Hawrylyshyn, manager of Employee Career Services for McMaster. She said that career resilience skills are necessary for all individuals in today’s ever-changing workplace.

Two pilot project workshops held as part of the planning for the career resilience workshop received high praise from participants from the departments of medicine and clinical epidemiology and biostatistics. Mahmood Akhtar, a research lab specialist in the Department of Medicine who took part in the pilot project, said it was a good learning experience.

"It reminded me that in today’s dynamic age, you need to be aware of diverse surroundings, new skill requirements, new emerging competitions and challenges, and anticipate changes at work," he said. "Career resilience will enable an employee to be proactive, rather than unprepared for a shocking or abrupt change or challenge in the workplace."

He noted the workshop is of particular interest to employees working on research grants, often called "soft money." Since such work is dependent on availability of funding, there is no job guarantee and workers must have the ability to cope in the demanding and competitive research environments.

"In my honest opinion, in these situations, chances of someone’s survival and progress can be directly related to their degree of resiliency," he said. "But survival and progress are not the only benefits of career resilience. This also makes a person more marketable and prepared for a possible career change."

The career resilience workshop is designed for all levels of employees working in research.

Leslie Steinberg, an executive assistant based at the Henderson Research Centre, also described the pilot project workshop as extremely helpful.

"Career resilience is an interesting topic, about challenges and changes to the workplace, how to prepare your resume, how to interview for that next position, and so on," she said. "It was an excellent workshop."

The workshop on April 18 will be held from 9 a.m. to noon in room 3304 of the Michael G. DeGroote Centre for Learning and Discovery. Registration deadline is April 13, and space is limited. Employees can register online at, or by e-mail,

Although the first workshop is for Faculty of Health Sciences employees only, another workshop open to the broader University community is being planned for later in the spring. It is hoped the workshops will become a regular feature, being offered on a quarterly basis.

Employee Career Services are available to all McMaster employees under the Working at McMaster portfolio.

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