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BRITE hosts 4th Annual BRI Trainee Workshop
BRITE hosts 4th Annual BRI Trainee Workshop

On Thursday, March 7, 2019 the Bloorview Research Institute Trainee Executive (BRITE) hosted its fourth annual BRI Trainee Workshop. The annual event aims to inspire, coach, and connect students dedicated to improving the lives of children with disabilities with the wider community of research trainees from Toronto-based academic hospitals. The workshop is solely organized and entirely run by the BRITE team and committee members.

“The BRI Trainee Workshop is an exciting opportunity to bring together Holland Bloorview’s trainees, and trainees from outside of the hospital for a day of inspiration and learning. Students and trainees from across Ontario can network, discuss shared goals, and build their professional skills together in a supportive environment," says Ilana Naiman, co-chair of BRITE.

"We’re fortunate to offer this workshop annually and spearhead professional development for the next generation of childhood disability researchers. This is a great way to bring our community together and generate conversations around the careers that we aspire to have and the impact that we want to achieve," adds Stephanie Cheung, co-chair, BRITE.

Every year, the BRI Trainee Workshop focuses on developing tangible and transferable skills for advancing trainees’ personal and professional goals, through discussion and practical skill building. The 2019 workshop welcomed 30 attendees, including students from the University of Toronto and other Ontario-based universities. The packed day included two workshops, a keynote speaker, a panel presentation, and concluded with the annual BRITE Awards for Excellence.


Workshop #1: Networking: Optimizing your Connections

Networking provides the opportunity to establish connections with people who share professional interests. It is a key component in building those all-important connections and networks, gathering information relating to your career of choice and accessing the 'hidden' job market. This workshop will look at why networking is so important in today's job market, what networking means to different people and introduce strategies to help make talking to professionals easier.

Facilitator: Mary McAuliffe, University of Toronto Career Exploration & Education

Workshop #2: Recognizing Patterns to Design your Life

Do you know what types of careers might excite you? Find out at this session by learning what a design mindset is and how to use it to help understand what activities in school, employment and life make you engaged and bring you energy. Along with those activities, connect to potential future careers. This workshop will provide you with insightful next steps that will help you design your life after your current placement.

Facilitators: Teresa Didiano and Albert Huynh, Troost Institute for Leadership Education in Engineering

Discussions during workshops

Keynote presentation

BRITE was delighted to welcome Narges Karbasi, a family leader at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital (Holland Bloorview) to share her story. As a family leader, Narges’ voice is core to Holland Bloorview’s family-centred approach: "I had a great experience speaking with the group of lovely trainees. It was very special since it was telling the story of my life and family with all of the ups and downs. I was nervous at the beginning, but by looking at their faces, seeing all those beautiful smiles, and the way everyone was listening with passion made me pull through to the end with confidence!”

(From L to R) Narges Karbasi, family leader, Holland Bloorview; Beth Dangerfield, family partnerships specialist, Holland Bloorview

Panel: Careers in Motion

How can we navigate career opportunities while discovering our own professional goals? This was the topic of a panel that included Holland Bloorview’s Sean Peacocke (manager of strategy and Centre for Leadership), Sharon Wong (director of commercialization), and Anne Hunt (manager of student training and intervention research program, and clinical study investigator). Alumna Amanda Fleury (hardware researcher, MUSE, InteraXon) also took part in this important discussion.

“The workshop was a great opportunity for me to come back to Holland Bloorview and visit colleagues and friends from my PhD years,” says Amanda. “From my personal experience, it can be hard in graduate school to see mostly examples of people on the academic track, and imagine what jobs could look like outside of that. I’m glad the BRITE team made the effort do show a diverse array of paths and destinations for folks with a PhD, and I was thrilled to be a part of that.”

Panel: Careers in Motion ((From L to R) Sharon Wong, Sean Peacocke, Anne Hunt, and Amanda Fleury)

BRITE Awards for Excellence

The day concluded with the BRITE Awards for Excellence that highlight Holland Bloorview’s trainees and supervisors who go above and beyond to shape the next generation of researchers, scientists, and clinicians. This year’s winners included:

“The BRI Trainee Workshop provided valuable career advice that extends beyond the scientific aspects of our day-to-day research and academics. This interactive workshop gave us an opportunity to practice the skills we were taught in a positive learning environment and collaborate with our peers. I feel I now have more tools at my disposal to shape a career path that meets my professional and personal needs. I am looking forward to the next one!” says Jennifer Ryan, physiotherapist, Holland Bloorview.

The Bloorview Research Institute Trainee Executive (BRITE) is a unique, one-stop resource run exclusively by trainees, for trainees. The BRITE mission is to develop a community that fosters academic growth, encourages peer support, and celebrates trainee achievements. Learn more by visiting BRITE.


Trainee News: There are always newsworthy stories coming from our training experience at the BRI. We document our memorable training experience by featuring trainees’ research involvement and trainee-led events in news articles.

If you have a newsworthy story or highlight from your work, and want to share it with the BRI community, please contact us.