Harmon Brinson interned with Roche and gained skills in data insights and business analytics while making contributions to a global biotech company.
How did you get your internship?
One of the biggest parts of the internship journey was landing the opportunity in the first place. Something my supervisor said to me (they were also the person who initially interviewed me) was that they had never heard of the humanities, so they looked it up online and “found a lot of really good stuff.” In particular, they were very impressed with the Applied Humanities curriculum. I gained a lot of skills from the PAH 383 Pre-Internship: Building Career Readiness course. That class helped me build a cover letter that was full of references to what they were looking for, while keeping a certain kind of flow to it. I also had practiced some great interview strategies in PAH 383 that helped me land the internship.
Why did you choose this internship?
Roche is the world's largest biotechnology company and is where I was wanting to get a job at after graduation. My responsibilities fell under Finance within the Data Insights and Idea lab - aka the D&I Lab. This role emphasizes work within both the financial field and analytical field. I worked closely between the finance team, business case teams, and IT, within our tools. In my full-time summer position, I was kept very busy, and I was able to meet a lot of people from all kinds of backgrounds.
In the College of Humanities, it is encouraged and supported to complete a double major in a second language, and I double-major in German Studies. What specifically interested me about this internship was the chance to work internationally. I actually got to use the German I have been studying, as a wide portion of Roche employees speak German. I also learned that with weekly meetings on abroad teams comes waking up pretty early. However, I found once I started doing coffee in the morning it didn’t bother me, and I thoroughly enjoyed working with such diverse teams.
I think the internship was such an important thing that I would have passed on if it wasn't a required part of the Applied Humanities degree. I learned so much during my internship, and I think my top two skills that I gained I couldn’t have practiced on my own without the experience. Firstly, learning how to teach myself in new environments - for example, some of my strategies were learning through studying and reverse engineering huge excel sheets and also studying the companies programs well enough to answer questions on them. Secondly, I learned how to react when given a task that was over my head. Some advice I learned in those moments is that it is best to take a step back and take a high level approach to the task.
How did your Applied Humanities major coursework help prepare you for the internship experience?
There are so many ways that the courses have helped. Something really unique to the Applied Humanities was the PAH 372 Intercultural Competence class. This was such a great skillset to have going into a team with only one other American and another where I was the only American. The coursework helped me to navigate such a new environment. Upon reflection, I am very happy about choosing this major. The vast amount of essential soft skills that you can learn under this degree are so helpful, and are so unique to the program.
What was the most satisfying part of your internship?
What ended up being most satisfying to me, actually surprised me. I came into the internship expecting the data inputting and head down kind of work to be my favorite. While I definitely didn't mind it, I found that the social parts of the job were really enjoyable to me. I got to meet people from all over the world and build meaningful connections with them. Several people who are now in my network even said they would refer me if ever given the chance. Reflecting on this, I know more about the kind of workplace I want and can take that with me as I begin to search for longer term positions.
What advice do you have for other students as they search for their internship?
One of the things that helped in my search for an internship was just keeping a positive mental attitude. I applied to a lot of things, and often things didn’t pan out the way I wanted. Staying positive also helped me come into interviews in a good and prepared mindset. Finding an internship is a journey, and keeping a good attitude and reflecting on the skills you have learned through coursework will take you a long way.
How has your internship experience influenced your plans for your future?
The internship has helped give reference to things I do or don’t enjoy in the workplace. Another was really learning the power of information interviews. I have plans on doing them much more often. They were so helpful in defining what a role means and is like on the daily level. I also got to see that many people have winding roads of work experience and that it's okay to keep moving into new roles and trying to find what you most enjoy.