In January, Erin Saybolt externed at Johnson & Johnson in Horsham, PA with John Sears ’99. She decided to participate in this externship because she wasn’t sure about what she wanted to do in the future. Erin thought that this externship would help her explore the possibilities out there.
Erin prepared her extern application by talking to friends who previously participated in the program and by researching the companies. To students interested in applying to the Extern Program in the future, Erin says to “do your research on what you’re interested in, and it’s okay to go for an opportunity that is not in your field of interest.” Before beginning her externship at Johnson & Johnson, Erin called her extern sponsor and stayed in touch with him throughout December. “I made sure that I kept the connection going until the day of my externship, and keeping in communication with him was the key thing to my preparation,” she adds.
On her first day at Johnson & Johnson, Erin’s sponsor, John, gave her a tour of the facility, a brief introduction to the organization and its pharmaceutical company, Janssen. “He told me about his life as a Healthcare Quality Strategist and his career journey. It was interesting hearing about his journey because he was really successful at Ursinus and he went to grad school. His career was not lab science related, so I got to see the other side of healthcare which was new and different,” explains Erin. She also met John’s colleagues who offered advice on her career development. A unique thing that Erin’s sponsor had her do was personality tests. These personality tests were eye-opening for the sophomore because she was able to see what skills and qualities are applicable to certain careers and discover her strengths.
Erin recommends communicating early with your sponsor and keeping the communication going up until the day of your externship. Erin is still in touch with her sponsor and has talked to him about internships. She hopes to stay in contact with him in the future. Erin proposes to connect with your sponsor on LinkedIn, email them questions, and keep them updated about what you’re doing at Ursinus.
This biology major believes that her externship experience made her more open to different career paths that she would not have considered before. Also, it has provided her with some guidance and skills. Erin was able to branch out and experience different things and merge two of her interests into a career. Before externing at Johnson & Johnson, she didn’t know anything about pharmaceuticals. After her externship, Erin learned that you can be a lab scientist, but also work on the marketing and sales side. In general, with a big company such as Johnson & Johnson, you can do whatever you like and forge your career into something meaningful.
The Coolest Part of the Experience
The coolest part of Erin’s experience was the personality tests since they were very enlightening. “I will always take away the personality tests from this externship as well as the relationships that I formed with John and his coworkers. The greatest reward was getting to know myself better and understanding what I possibly could do as a career,” says Erin.
If Erin were to participate in the Extern Program again, she would apply to other companies besides pharmaceutical companies. She advises to go into your externship open-minded, experience as much variety as you can, and don’t close yourself off to other opportunities. Erin highly recommends this externship to other students.