There are plenty of ways to improve your job prospects – the trick is finding a program that fits your schedule, matches your areas of interest and that’s most attractive to potential employers.
Melissa Ota (BSc Co-op '21, GC '22) discovered all of these in the Graduate Certificate in Bioinformatics at ULethbridge.
“I decided to take the certificate because I thought it would be a great way to diversify my resume in a short amount of time,” says Ota, who graduated from the certificate program in June as one of the University of Lethbridge's inaugural bioinformatics alumni.
“I’m interested in furthering my education by applying to some professional degree programs and this certificate has given me unique experience that helps me stand out from other applicants,” Ota says.
It’s also strengthened skills that are highly transferable, such as my programming and research skills, as well as my ability to work effectively in a team. I didn’t know that bioinformatics was such a collaborative and interdisciplinary field, but I was pleasantly surprised to work on projects with people from all different educational backgrounds.
A Growing Industry
Bioinformatics is the study of large amounts of biological information, combining computer programming, data analysis and biology. The growth of the global bioinformatics industry is so rapid, a recent report predicts it will reach USD $21.8 billion by 2026.
That’s good news for Ota and her fellow graduate certificate alumni.
“I was very interested in getting involved in bioinformatics because it’s a relatively new but rapidly growing field with great potential in many applications, such as in medicine, pharmaceuticals and agriculture,” she says.
“For me, a fulfilling career means doing something that you believe has a purpose and that you find interesting. This certificate was a great way for me to learn more about innovative technology in the context of numerous engaging topics in medical research.”
The Graduate Certificate in Bioinformatics is a part-time program that includes four courses (12.0 credit hours) held over six months (January-June). The program can be completed in person or online.
Ota, who completed the certificate in person on the Lethbridge campus, recommends taking full advantage of the experience and its many opportunities for learning and collaboration.
“I encourage everyone to go to all the lab and journal club meetings because they can be very interesting and educational.”
Students interested in taking the graduate certificate should have an academic background in either life sciences, mathematics, computer sciences or engineering, while the collaborative nature of bioinformatics means written and oral communication skills are a must.
“I would recommend this program to anyone that is looking to add something extra to their resume or someone that is looking for a career change. I would also recommend this graduate certificate to anyone that is looking to gain some experience in a laboratory/research environment.”
Graduate Certificate in Bioinformatics at a glance:
· Application deadline: December 1
· Intake: Spring semester
· Duration: Six-months
· Coursework (no thesis)
· Practicum included: No
· Supervisor required: No
· Delivery: In-person on the main (Lethbridge) campus or online