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Alum Hits Stride With Research Position

April 2023
  • T'Leah McQuade

QCC alumna T'Leah McQuade spoke to the QCC community on Monday, March 20 about her educational and professional journey into the world of clinical research. McQuade graduated from QCC in 2022 with an associate degree in liberal arts. She had a strong interest in psychology, serving as treasurer for the Psi Beta Honor Society and the Psychology Club. Currently, she is performing clinical research at UMass Chan Medical School as an intern.

When McQuade started at QCC, she wanted to pursue human services; however, quickly realized the constant social interaction wasn't compatible with her personality so she switched her focus to research which better matched her strengths and skills. She noted that pivoting is just part of the process of finding the right career path.

"At UMass Chan, I interact with a lot of different professionals like public health specialists and statisticians. When you get into the field, you might connect with a particular role and change your educational path. I fit in this data niche so while I’m going to finish my bachelor's degree in psychology, I’m going to get my master's in data science," she said.

McQuade, who is considered a nontraditional student, noted that this type of work is open to a wide variety of people and there is a high demand for new employees.

"If you’re insecure about your age or your past, don't worry. The fact that I'm 39 and have a gap in my work history didn’t even come into play when I was applying for internships," she said.

McQuade also offered valuable advice on preparing for a career in clinical research, such as utilizing QCC Career Services for resume building, finding a QCC mentor, and taking CIS 111 to get a handle on Microsoft products. Her recommendation when searching for an internship is to use keywords on topics that are of personal interest. 

"If you're excited about the subject matter and can convey that in your application, there's a likelihood they'll take you on," she said.

Once placed in an internship, her advice was to work as hard as possible to be an asset to the team.

"These people are very motivated and busy professionals and you want to keep up. My boss will ask me to do something new and she loves when I say, 'I don't know how but I'll find out!' I've become a very self-sufficient Google user."

McQuade explained that clinical research differs from standard research in that it involves human subjects. This creates an added layer of ethics and confidentiality. 

"I really wanted to share what I was doing with everyone I know but I could only share with my coworkers," McQuade continued, adding, "I'm so proud of the work."