Regulatory Affairs Graduate Pairs Global Mindset with Co-op to Propel Career

Regulatory Affairs Graduate Pairs Global Mindset with Co-op to Propel Career

A global mindset has defined each step of Afrin Shirazi’s education, co-op experience, and career journey. By combining her borderless approach with a Northeastern University education, Afrin has consistently attained new levels of success.

While researching universities, Afrin discovered that Northeastern University in Toronto’s Regulatory Affairs program is the only master’s degree of its kind in Canada — and that the school prides itself on a borderless approach to education. A recommendation from a friend in Northeastern’s Global Campus Network, who was completing his education at the flagship Boston location, confirmed her decision to apply.

When she arrived in Toronto from India, Afrin looked to leverage her previous Pharmacy education and years of experience to learn about global markets. After deciding to incorporate a co-op placement into her studies, she hoped it would help her become familiar with North American work culture.

Now, after successfully converting her co-op into a full-time position, she contributes to a company that delivers pharmaceuticals and healthcare solutions across Canada.

“When I looked at Northeastern’s curriculum, I noticed how extensive it was, and the co-op option definitely caught my eye,” says Afrin, who completed her co-op placement at Mint Pharmaceuticals, where she is a regulatory affairs associate. “Now, I can say that co-op helped me launch my career.”

“Northeastern tests your knowledge in a commendable way that allows you to apply theory to practice.”

Co-op and Career Preparation

Experiential learning is a signature component of a Northeastern University education. Students across all programs have the opportunity to alternate semesters of academic study with semesters of full-time employment in positions related to their field of study or career interests. Their preparation starts in the classroom.

“Any assignments, discussions, or research papers we wrote gave us the practical application,” says Afrin. “One of my assignments, for example, was on how pharmaceutical companies can be challenged by common people. It’s a topic relevant to my profession. Northeastern tests your knowledge in a commendable way that allows you to apply theory to practice.”

At Northeastern University in Toronto, co-op and career preparation extend beyond theoretical and technical know-how. A comprehensive support system helps guide students in securing a co-op job and kickstarting their careers. For example, the campus has established various corporate partnerships, exposing students to potential employment opportunities through an internal job posting board. Students also access employment-related resources, extracurricular prep courses, and guidance from dedicated career and co-op advisors.

“The university set up co-op advising sessions for us and held events that explained how co-op works and gave us tips and tricks for finding and applying to placements,” Afrin says. “I also realized I had to take the initiative to do my networking and research. I took a strategic approach and filtered companies by ones that offered co-op, checked to ensure the timing of their co-op aligned with my timeline, and was proactive in reaching out to companies on LinkedIn.”

Turning Co-op into a Career

After applying to several companies, Afrin quickly secured her co-op placement. With the December holiday season fast approaching, she wanted to finalize the required co-op paperwork to ensure she was ready to begin her placement without any delays. That’s when Afrin turned back to her co-op advisor.

“The university and my co-op advisor did an amazing job helping me,” she says. “When I told my co-op advisor that I urgently wanted to finalize my paperwork, she prioritized contacting my employer and approving my co-op.”

“I think eagerness to learn and persistence are keys to achieving your goals.”

Afrin’s co-op experience was beneficial in expanding both her technical and soft skills. In India, the companies Afrin worked for focused on the U.S. market. Mint Pharmaceuticals exposed her to the Canadian market and Health Canada’s regulations. The experience also allowed her to understand the norms and processes of a Canadian workplace setting.

“My co-op experience was amazing,” she says. “I was able to apply my previous knowledge while learning new regulations and applying knowledge from my Northeastern studies that was specific to Health Canada. I also got to see how a diverse setting, with people from all over the world, functions.”

“When I returned to school, I was able to apply what I had learned to my classwork. That helped me connect the dots in terms of understanding what I was being taught and why.”

During her co-op experience, Afrin had the opportunity to work in numerous areas within the company. She prioritized time management and flexibility, taking the initiative to understand what skills the company most valued so she could contribute effectively. Her enthusiasm, combined with her technical know-how, helped Afrin stand out and landed her a full-time position.

“There are different stages to drug development, and right now I am working in post-approval drug development,” she says of her role as regulatory affairs associate. “I’m also being trained on early-stage development of drug modules. I think eagerness to learn and persistence are keys to achieving your goals.”

Click here to learn more about the Master of Science in Regulatory Affairs program.

By: Izabela Shubair

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