Program Career Advisor Di Saldivar Interviewed Sonam about her Internship:
Where is your internship? Where do you intern and what is your title?
“It was formerly called PharmaTech but now it’s called Catalent . It’s a pharmaceutical manufacturing unit where we partner with different pharma companies like Pfizer. They give the molecule structure to the company and then we develop their drugs. We are in the drug development section where we bottle and send the drugs to their specific locations or the companies, and then they market it.”
How did you find your internship?
“Actually, I found it through LinkedIn. I did apply to a few positions from the jobs you have been sending through the newsletter, and did get a few calls back, but the timing didn’t match, so I had to drop that plan. Where I am now is a very good role for me. I am a technical training and program improvement assistant. I basically look at the manufacturing processes and the production units.
I had do go through three interview rounds. The first one was just a brief overview of my experience and what I want to do in the future. It was with HR, and they asked behavioral questions along with some others. In the second round, I met the director who is my lead on-site, and then there was a third interview with the director and the director’s boss. “
How was that?
“It was cool. It was also on-site. I was thinking ‘Wow! All this happens for an internship?!’”
Have you done anything like this before?
“No, I used to manage hospital operations when I was in India. I was in a healthcare organization in a hospital. So it’s a completely different area, but I am enjoying it and learning a lot.
This is the first work experience I have had in the U.S. It’s a good experience I must say. The work culture is entirely different. It is very open and friendly. You can just go and talk to people and you can ask a lot of questions. That is one benefit! <Laughs> you can just keep bugging them and asking them questions, but they appreciate it. They know that you are interested, so they are willing to help you, and teach you. They really guide you. It’s definitely different compared to what I had experienced in India.”
What are the hours like?
“It’s a full time position. I start at 8am and leave by 5:00-5:15pm. It’s Monday thru Friday for 12 weeks with the possibility of extending the internship. My schedule is jammed pack. I have no free time. I thought it would be a part-time thing like I go in at 9am and come back at 1pm but this is 8-5. And you cannot skip a day because there is a lot of production happening. You have to be in the unit to monitor it, and I’m monitoring the process so I have to be there.”
How are you balancing the internship and the master’s program?
“This is for the summer when I am off, but I did have a two week overlap during finals. I told my lead that I was having my finals, and asked if it would be possible to do a half day. So just for that week I was able to get out at 1pm, go study, and then come to class. They were very flexible.”
Have the classes you’ve taken so far been helpful during your internship?
“Oh yes! Luckily when I joined the program I was able to take the courses with the 2nd years like Process Improvement, Quality Management, and Lean Six Sigma, and it’s all has come in handy. My lead just tells me to do stuff, and if I have not had that background or attended those classes, I’d probably be lost. But because of the knowledge that I have learned, I know what they are talking about.”
Is there anything else you would like to add?
“What I found surprising is that there are a lot of UC San Diego alumni from other different programs like chemical engineering. It’s been a great opportunity to network. And then the rooms, the conference rooms, are named after the college mascots around here like Tritons, and Aztecs. It’s really cool.”
For those who are looking for an internship, what kind of advice would you like to give them?
“There are a lot of opportunities to network. I spoke to a lot of people in the class to gauge the market. I spoke to you, and I’ve been talking to a lot of people. Really, networking is the key.
I basically saw this opening, then I looked at their website, and I googled who worked there. I saw there were UC San Diego alumni so I contacted them, and that’s how they put me in touch with HR. “