March 2022 Alumni Spotlight

Samantha Cibere, 2020-2021 Co-President, 2018-2019 Co-VP Academic

Hi Physsoc! It seems like forever ago that I was playing foosball in the lounge procrastinating on some homework assignment. Really, it was all just an illusion from the pandemic since I actually graduated with a Bachelor’s in Astronomy, spring of 2021! When I started at UBC, I was involved in Physsoc from my third day into first year, but it wasn’t until my 2nd year that I joined the club as Academic Coordinator and Lounge Manager (2017-2018). From there I became one of two VP Academics (2018-2019) and after a year away on co-op and other things I was Co-President for my final year at UBC (2020-2021).

After graduating, I was still working at my last co-op placement that offered me extensions all the way from when it ended in April 2020 to August 2021! What was this job you might ask? Something technical and physics-y? Nope! I was an assistant working for Transport Canada in the Regional Enforcement Unit mainly focusing on aviation safety and security.

While not related to my degree, I chose this co-op back in 2020, and continued to stay on for over a year because it was close to a hobby of mine that I picked up in 2019: flying planes! From 2019 to now I have flown a number of little single-engine planes and have loved every minute of it! One of the great things after graduating was all the free time that opened up and you can bet I spent every opportunity I had transiting all the way to Langley to hop in a dinky plane from the 70’s and fly beside the awesome mountains we live so close to.

But once the summer started to come to a close, the weather turned rainy and unsuitable for flying and my contract with the government of Canada was ending, it was time to keep moving. Enter in my current job: Research Technician at D-Wave Systems! I have only been here for 6 months but already feel at home. What I love most about my job is that so many concepts I learned in theory, from electrodynamics to statistical mechanics, I get to see and understand in a way that has real world applications! I’ve gotten to learn about cryogenics, quantum chip fabrication, electronic systems, and even a new coding language (LISP if you’re curious)! I get to work hands-on with the quantum computers while also being able to create new projects that I enjoy. I learn something new everyday (mostly from failing once or twice) and still feel like there’s so much more to uncover!

From when I started at UBC to now I think I’ve picked up one good lesson. From first and second year, I tried to do everything, insane course loads, two jobs, extracurriculars, the works (I was in combined honours physics and astronomy at this point). Third year, I toned it down a bit, but was still trying so hard and got frustrated every time I got a grade I didn’t think was good enough. I would be so scared about not having any relevant experience or research under my belt, but when my physical health took a turn for the worse at the end of my third year it finally clicked. I spent my co-ops and final year not driving myself into the ground. I focused on enjoying what I was learning and stopped caring so much about my GPA. Now I’m here, working an amazing job that I love and doing hobbies that I truly enjoy.

In the end, what I’m trying to say is that university is a marathon, not a sprint; pace yourself and take breaks! Don’t get caught up on the details of one bad course grade, or hell, if you’re like me, 10. After graduation, in interviews, no one will care about those details if you can show them a better big picture. Just do what you enjoy and are good at and forget how it looks to others because it’s your life not theirs. Switch majors! Take a weird unrelated co-op! Start a hobby that you think is cool! And if you ever need some advice or just want to chat about my weird and non-standard career/university choices feel free to reach out (!

(Oh, and after graduation, enjoy that procrastination hobby guilt-free because you made it!)


Samantha Cibere