The weather is not usually cited as a reason for moving to Canada, but after living in Singapore and Australia, Rasvinder Kaur was ready for a little less heat. Canada’s unparalleled diversity and the opportunities that go along with that convinced her this was the place she wanted to call home.

Caught between “too much experience” and “not enough”

Despite her highly valuable qualifications as a molecular biologist and more than a decade of experience as a researcher in infectious diseases, Kaur knew she might face challenges in finding a good job in her field in a foreign country. She started her search several months before moving and quickly discovered Canada’s life sciences industry was much smaller than Singapore’s — and her years of experience didn’t open as many doors as she’d hoped.

“It was a bit frustrating, because when I applied for an entry-level position, they rejected my application because I was overqualified,” she says. “But when I applied for a senior position, they rejected me because I had no Canadian experience.”

Undaunted, Kaur did some Internet research and found BioTalent Canada’s BioSkills Recognition Program. Being realistic about the challenges of gaining employment in a new country, she opted to submit as a research assistant — a career level lower than she was qualified for — and easily earned her BioReady status.

New skills in a new field

With that recognition and the support of an immigrant-serving agency to help her make contacts, Kaur was able to secure a paid internship with iProgen Biotech Inc. There, she worked in the tissue culture facility, where cancer treatment compounds are tested.

“The internship gave me a valuable opportunity to learn new skills and showcase my transferrable skills to my employer,” she says. “Although I have a lot of related technical experience, my background is in a slightly different field, so there was still plenty for me to learn about cancer research.”

Kaur was impressed with how easy the BioTalent Canada programs were to use and navigate, and she believes the BioReady status contributed to her finding a job in her field as quickly as she did.

After her internship ended, Kaur was hired permanently at iProgen as a senior research associate and given additional responsibilities, including managing research projects. For the moment, she says she’s very happy where she is and looks forward to taking on new challenging tasks in her role, but she hopes to eventually move back up to a more senior position.