Student Success Stories

  • Eric Blaesing

    "It was while walking down the hall in the science building at Campbell University when I first heard about ISPE though I wasn't really familiar with what it all had to offer. A flyer was attached to a bulletin board advertising free pizza and extra credit for students majoring in pharmaceutical sciences, and as the case with any college student I was there. Little did I know at the time how ISPE would soon change my life and point me down a career path of success.

    "To be honest, I can't even remember who the speaker was that night or the topic that was spoken on at that meeting, but towards the end of the presentation, the speaker shifted gears and began describing the vast number of benefits of being a member of ISPE as a student. Needless to say, I was mesmerized by what all ISPE had to offer a student within its organization so that night I joined.

    "A few months went by and the newness of getting free pizza and extra credit to attend the ISPE student chapter meetings was beginning to wear away, and I was becoming bored. Looking back now, I can pinpoint the reason to my boredom to the fact that I was not involved. I was merely a benchwarmer filling a seat in an auditorium. It wasn't until one night when I was working in the hardware department at Wal-Mart that I bumped into Mark Yates, an industry member in ISPE, and began talking with him about school and ISPE. Funny enough Mark was also my college advisor my freshman year before he left the world of academia to work in the industry. As we were talking, I remember mentioning to him that I had a few credit hours to fill for the upcoming fall semester so I was toying with the idea of getting a minor in chemistry. He immediately responded with the statement that I should consider teaming up with a professor at school and doing some independent research instead and present it at the local ISPE poster competition, as it would help differentiate my resume from others when looking for a job after college.

    After some thought, I decided to take his advice. In the spring of 2003, I presented my poster at the local CASA meeting and won an all-expense paid trip to the ISPE Annual Meeting in New Orleans in November to present my poster again. I went on to win the Student Poster of the Year for Undergraduate students as well as a cash award.

    "Since becoming involved in ISPE, I have taken advantage of the many opportunities to attend many conferences and leadership forums. In doing so, I have met and networked with many professionals that have helped refine my career path, which has enabled me to be successful today. In fact, through different contacts and help from the people I met, Wyeth recruited me for a full-time position before I had even graduated from college. With that being said, I leave this advice. Get involved! Whether it is participating in the poster competition, attending the Leadership Forum in Washington or Annual Meeting, or serving as an officer in a local student chapter, the opportunities are endless! The people you meet and the knowledge you gain along the way can make all the difference in leading to a successful career!"

  • Dawn Eriksen

    From Shy Mouse to Confident Leader

    "When I first joined ISPE three years ago, people likened me to a mouse. I was a quiet little girl without much to say. I was intimidated by social situations where I did not know people. This changed with my first step into the professional world at the local ISPE event in Boston, which led to my attendance at an annual conference, and then from there the Washington student leadership conference. At that point, I had learned how to interact with business professionals, to be confident, and to enjoy public speaking.

    "However, my learning did not end there. With the help of the professionals who had become my close friends, I entered my research in the ISPE International Student Poster Competition. Not only was I awarded first prize for the competition, but I was offered a full time position after my graduation. The gentleman said he liked "my confidence." And I can tell you with complete certainty: that confidence was obtained through my interactions with ISPE!

    "I was also elected as president of my student chapter of ISPE and stood as a role model for the students. I am able to provide for the underclassmen all of the events which I would want to attend, including resume workshops, industrial facility tours, and public speaking skills seminars. I also contacted hiring managers from the industry to visit our school and give informational sessions to our students about how best to present ourselves for a position in the industry.

    "I've sat down for dinner with a Director of Process Engineering at Biogen Idec, I've shared stories with the Plant Manager of Astra Zeneca from England, I've asked the Vice President of Genzyme Validations for a favor, I've even hugged the Chairperson of ISPE. After I receive my doctoral degree, I know that ISPE will help me to find a position that is perfect for me doing something I love. ISPE has made me a success and without reservation I urge everyone to become involved."

    Dawn Eriksen was President of the ISPE Student Chapter at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and 2006 

    ISPE International Student Poster Competition winner, 2006.

  • Ryan Hill

    "As an undergraduate in chemical engineering at NC State, I developed an interest in the pharmaceutical industry. I realized the industry was growing and there would be many opportunities to achieve my future career goals. I joined ISPE mainly because it is a great way to learn more about the pharmaceutical industry by networking with industry professionals. Afterwards, I realized that ISPE offers so much more.

    "I first got involved with ISPE by competing in the Student Poster Competition in 2002. Since I was working on a research project through the Chemical Engineering Department at NC State, I decided to make a poster and enter the contest. I ended up winning not only the local CASA competition but also the international competition at the 2002 Annual Meeting as well!

    "I received a free trip to the 2002 Annual Meeting in Orlando along with a cash award and the opportunity to publish a research article in ISPE's esteemed journal, Pharmaceutical Engineering Magazine (March/April 2004). This was a wonderful and life-changing experience for me and has been a tremendous contribution to my career development.

    "After my winning the poster competition, I became very involved with ISPE and the local CASA Chapter. I held officer positions for the NC State Student Chapter and attended other ISPE events such as the Washington Conference for student leadership development in Arlington, VA. The poster competition gave my resume a boost, which lead to other research opportunities such as my 2003 Summer Research Fellowship at NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology). I also attended the 2003 Annual Meeting in New Orleans, which was a fantastic experience. Not only do you learn a lot from the wealth of knowledge at annual meetings, you also have fun!"

    After graduation Ryan Hill became a Process Control Systems Engineer at Talecris Biotherapeutics Inc.

  • Justin Lathia

    "As a biomedical engineering student at Drexel University, I attended classes enthusiastically, but my fascination grew into commitment once I began a cooperative education rotation in vaccine manufacturing at Merck & Co., Inc.

    "It was such a positive experience that I decided to pursue a second co-op at Merck & Co., Inc. and transfer to a more technical role in bio/sterile validation. The added pharmaceutical industry experience I gained, plus a desire for more training, motivated me to upgrade my degree program to a dual B.S./M.S.

    "At the end of my second co-op, I learned of a poster contest sponsored by ISPE. I immediately signed up because I wanted to present my co-op project, as well as have the experience of creating and presenting a poster. The poster I created was entitled "Alternative Methods to Cleaning Validation." During the contest, I had an opportunity to interact with many industry professionals in the Philadelphia area and received positive feedback on the project. I also was lucky enough to win and present my poster at the 2001 ISPE Annual Meeting in Las Vegas later that year. My experience at the Annual Meeting was the highlight of my ISPE student experience.

    "While I was doing my master's work, I presented another poster at both the Chapter and the International Student Poster Competition. I met many other students and industry professionals at those events and was able to share my work again. I also co-authored a companion paper, along with Dalia El-Sherif, Nikhil O. Dhoot, and Margaret A. Wheatly: "Surface Modification of Polymeric Contrast Agents for Cancer Targeting." It explores the fundamentals of ultrasound agents, and may be found in the January/February 2004 issue of ISPE's magazine, Pharmaceutical Engineering.

    "My ISPE experience solidified my commitment to the field and helped me gain exposure to a career perspective that I would not have had otherwise. Aside from the academic/professional aspects of ISPE, I also enjoyed the social aspect. I have been involved in many student societies but none compared to ISPE. Through ISPE, I met many interesting people and had the opportunity to travel to many events: Annual Meetings (Las Vegas and Orlando) and INTERPHEX (New York). If you have any desire to work in the pharmaceutical industry, joining ISPE is a must. You won't regret it."

  • Jennifer Lauria

    Fulfill Your Career Goals with ISPE

    "When I was in college there were many clubs and organizations that I could join. ISPE (International society for pharmaceutical engineering) was one of my priorities because of the many career opportunities that it presented to engineering. ISPE is known for networking, professional development, specific job training and for working closely with the FDA (Food & Drug Administration). Discipline specific organizations offer you great options in your specific field. However, ISPE is different and shows you all the different types of roles available to you in a pharmaceutical research /development / manufacturing facility. If you love to do research, someone will be able to point you in the right direction for learning more about how research is vital to the industry and how you can learn more about getting the job of your dreams. If you wish to analyze data or work in a lab, there are numerous types of labs in all facilities that you can learn from. ISPE can set up a plant tour of most any facility that your chapter is interested in visiting.

    "All types of engineers are hired by companies that participate in ISPE. They look for students interested in manufacturing, quality assurance, scheduling, planning, simulation, architecture, construction management, and Validation just to name a few. Remember that your professional chapter is in place to help you learn more about the pharmaceutical industry, the objectives of ISPE and to point you in the right direction so you are able to fulfill your career goals. "

    Jennifer went on to to become the chair of the ISPE Young Professionals Committee.

  • Amy Lineberry

    "I became a member of ISPE when I was a sophomore. I became involved because our professor was giving out extra credit and there was free pizza afterwards. After I got involved I realized what a great organization this was. I saw the benefits that students received and decided to also become an officer. Since becoming involved I have learned a lot about the industry and I have had the chance to attend conferences. By attending conferences I have met lots of professionals. My senior year I became the Vice President and this gave me a chance to be more involved. Through the guidance of Mark Yates I completed a research project and poster. I won at the local level (for CASA) and got a free trip to the annual meeting, which was being held in Arizona. This was a wonderful experience. The research project helped me to secure an internship position at Wyeth. After the three-month internship I was looking for a full-time position, since the internship was the last of my graduation requirements. During my internship I not only got to work with the Wyeth personnel but also various contractors who were on site. This was a unique experience in that on the last day of my internship I flew to Indianapolis, IN for training. I completed my internship on one day and started my career the next. If it were not for ISPE and my involvement I would never have gotten my internship and current job.

    "My advice to other students is get involved. I do not mean just go to the meetings, but talk to the speakers afterwards and get their cards, become an officer, and show your enthusiasm. Your enthusiasm will show that you are willing to work and become a key member of the industry. Do the research project and the poster. The research does not have to be extremely complicated, and this could get you a free trip to the annual meeting. This is a great organization that offers multitudes for a student, including great networking opportunities."

    Amy Lineberry attended Campbell University and graduated May of 2005. She majored in Pharmaceutical Sciences.

  • Peter Millili

    "ISPE has had an important role in guiding the development of my career. Five years ago, it was through ISPE that I met my first co-op employer, Brian Lange, who has been my mentor ever since. Over the years, I've had opportunities to attend local and international meetings, and they have always opened up new opportunities for me. It was through my involvement in ISPE that I first learned about the general research area that I would tackle for my Masters degree. Seminars on Process Analytical Technologies Like Acoustic Emission gave me ideas that I could apply to my project. Helpful discussions with experienced industry leaders at meetings encouraged me to further pursue my education. I am currently at the University of Delaware pursuing my Ph.D. in chemical engineering.

    "Getting involved on the Student Chapter level also has helped me learn more about leadership and career development. For the past few years, I have served as President of Drexel University's Student Chapter, helping my fellow students learn more about the pharmaceutical industry and how they can best prepare themselves for a career in this field. One of the highlights each year was our group trip to INTERPHEX. This always was an eye-opening experience for people newly interested in the pharmaceutical industry. The tremendous number and variety of companies present at this exhibition helped expand our minds to fully appreciate the myriad of opportunities that exist.

    "Lastly, participating in the Delaware Valley Chapter Poster Competition and this year at the international competition at the Annual Meeting, were great opportunities to present academic research to industry professionals. Feedback provided at these events helped me better understand how my work was applicable. I also had the opportunity to meet Student Members at other universities who were pursuing similar research interests. This allowed me to learn more about other programs, projects, and methods. ISPE has helped me in many ways over the years, and I strongly encourage students to take advantage of the opportunities the organization provides."

  • Jonathan Moreno

    Creating Your Own Destiny

    "Two years ago when I entered into the Chemical Engineering Program at the University of Massachusetts , Amherst , I was a little unsure of what I wanted to do in my future. I always had an appreciation for both the sciences and mathematics, so I figured engineering would be the perfect marriage of both.

    "After taking a few biology and organic chemistry courses, I quickly found myself looking for a way to jump into bioengineering. At the end of freshman year, I approached one of my professors, who happened to also be interested in bioengineering, and asked to do research in her lab. Professor Susan Roberts soon became my research advisor, academic advisor, and personal mentor. Sophomore year, I quickly volunteered to work on one of her projects, focusing on the development of a genetic transformation protocol for Taxus cell suspension cultures. It was so fascinating that I didn't want my biology related experience to be a mere hobby in my chemical engineering education.

    "With all of my many advisors' encouragement, I decided to design my own curriculum that would allow me to pursue dual bachelor's degrees in Biochemistry and Chemical Engineering within four years. After many revisions, I finally got it approved by both departments, and am now one of the first to chart a bioengineering degree at UMass with the hope of making this an optional degree track within a few short years.

    "This summer I continued my research at Wyeth Biopharmaceuticals in the Purification Process Development group to test the feasibility of using a fluorescent dye labeled Protein A to replace the original Protein A for spiking studies in different modes of chromatography. The project successfully developed an inexpensive and effective Fluorescent Protein A Model that could be used by the Development groups to screen hundreds of different chromatography conditions at once, utilizing the Teacan, an automated high throughput-screening robot. At the end of the summer, I was given the chance to present my research to the Wyeth Development groups.

    "With every new experience I've taken part in from research to different classes taken at the university, it seems to be getting increasingly difficult to narrow what I would ultimately like to go into after college. With a bioengineering background, the opportunities seemed endless. Having developed a profound appreciation for biology related research, after college, my goal is to attend a combined MD/PhD program in Bioengineering and Clinical Research.

    "My name is Jonathan Moreno. I am currently in the Commonwealth College Honors Program and a two-time recipient of UMass College of Engineering Scholarship as well as two Research Assistant Fellowships granted by the Commonwealth College to further my research.

    "I am a Student Member of ISPE, which just formed a Student Chapter at UMass last semester, and a student member of the Society for Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) as well as the American Institute for Chemical Engineers (AIChE). Outside of academics, I like to play and listen to jazz music and am a member of the University Jazz Bands. You can find out more about me, or write to me by visiting my Web site at www.biosyngen.com ."

    Jonathan is also ranked #1 in his class. He is a certified Lifeguard and spreads his love of music at a religious school as a music director.

  • Jonathan Muller

    "Last year, I spoke with a few students that went to the ISPE Annual Meeting in San Antonio. After hearing of their experience, I immediately had my heart set on attending the 2005 Annual Meeting. Fortunately, the meeting was more beneficial than I expected.

    "First, I had the opportunity to talk with professionals working in the pharmaceutical industry. These employees provided very useful information that will help with my college and career decisions in the future. Second, the vendors broadened my view of the industry. Each vendor took the time to speak with me for a few minutes and explained how their company applies to the pharmaceuticals. Being an undergraduate in chemical engineering, they explained to me whether or not someone could work in their company as a chemical engineer.

    "Third, my view of ISPE was changed. Before attending the meeting, I had a hard time explaining to students the purpose of ISPE. Since ISPE has many different responsibilities and services, there was no easy way to sum up its main objective. After explaining to students how ISPE educates, networks, and motivates people in the pharmaceutical industry, one question remained in my mind. What is ISPE to me? Nothing could have answered my question better that the Annual Meeting. I learned that ISPE acts as a link between the pharmaceutical industry and the government so that both sides can reach their goal to help mankind. The government wants to protect people from harmful drugs, and the pharmaceutical industry wants to provide life saving medication. ISPE is a tool that helps bring these visions together. With education, ISPE helps interpret and teach the requirements of the government to the pharmaceutical industry. Furthermore, ISPE networks the industry, which allows people to find the resources they need to meet all the requirements. By providing these resources, ISPE helps the long process of producing a drug run as smoothly as possible.

    "Finally, the people's attitudes towards others were most inspiring during the meeting. As a student, I was treated with the same respect as everyone else. Many people were willing to take the time and help me in any way possible. Moreover, everyone was very social. I was excited to se these business men and women know how to have a good time. In the years to come, I am looking forward to having a place in ISPE."

  • Stephen Serpe

    "I am a senior chemical engineering student at Villanova University. My interest in the pharmaceutical industry began my sophomore year when I joined ISPE. Since then I've learned a lot about the industry and gained a lot of insight - thanks to ISPE members.

    "I started attending ISPE Delaware Valley Chapter meetings as often as I could. Now only did I get a great free dinner, but I also got the chance to meet and network with industry professionals from a variety of backgrounds, and to see a presentation on various topics of the industry. There's a lot to be learned about the pharmaceutical industry and ISPE is there to help.

    "Last summer, while working on campus on what is now my senior thesis, my ISPE Advisor approached me with the opportunity to attend the 2005 ISPE Student Leadership Forum in the Washington, D.C. area.

    "The few days I spent at the conference were wonderful. Never would I have thought a professional society to be so family-like. Everyone was really supportive and helpful to all of the students in attendance. Random professionals would ask how we were, what we've been up to, if we needed directions to anywhere in the area, they told us where we should go out at night, and advised us to stay away from bad areas. I was shocked that these people whom we had just met cared so much about us. We quickly got that "old family friend" feeling from so many people we had just met. At the conference we learned a lot about resume writing, interviewing skills, networking tips, and the industry as a whole. I was very impressed with everything I had seen at the ISPE conference.

    "After returning home from the conference the support didn't stop. Many of the professionals running the Student Forum looked over my resume for me and made suggestions. I am still in contact with many of them and several are coming to Villanova to give presentations to our ISPE Student Chapter. Hopefully soon I can add to this testimonial and say how the ISPE helped me land my first job!"

  • Akshay Vilivalam

    Making a Difference!

    "As an ISPE Student Member, I gained an incredible amount of exposure to the pharmaceutical industry. These experiences helped me determine exactly what the pharmaceutical industry really is and afforded me the advantage of meeting and talking to many industry leaders while I was still in school. I joined the Student Chapter at my university and attended ISPE local Chapter programs and the ISPE Annual Meeting, and participated in courses.

    "ISPE is not just a professional organization, it is more like a family, a huge extended family where everyone is willing to help you and where you can also have some fun. I first attended a Delaware Valley Chapter program two years ago and as a student member, the local meetings were free. I have attended almost every meeting since then, including the ISPE Annual Meeting. You are offered the opportunity to attend educational courses, get credit for them, and ISPE members are really happy to see that you take an avid interest in the pharmaceutical industry at an early stage.

    "The pharmaceutical industry is an excellent employer. Almost every major discipline can help you find a place in this industry. If you are an engineer, you can work in the manufacturing area. If you are a science major, R&D is a great place to work. If you are marketing major, there is a need for people in that field also. The best part of working in the pharmaceutical industry is that you can make a difference! You are helping people, saving lives, inventing new drugs, and marketing them to reach all ends of the globe.

    "As any student in the last year in college, graduate or undergraduate, I was keenly looking out for a position in the industry. Through ISPE, I was able to meet people, get to know what their companies did, sit down for lunch with them whenever possible, and pass along my resume.

    "Participating at my Chapter's Annual Poster Competition gave me the chance to show case my work to people in the industry and maybe impress a future employer. I received feedback and ideas on my research from people in the industry. The winners of local competitions receive a free trip to compete at the ISPE Annual Meeting where almost every pharmaceutical company has someone in attendance. A multitude of people get to see your work and your circle expands.

    "I attended courses focusing on engineering trends in the industry, validation courses from a practical perspective, research trends in the industry, drug delivery, and many others. These courses helped me understand what would be expected of me if I was to work in the pharmaceutical industry. It cost nothing or very little to attend any of these courses; all you need is the desire to learn more about what's out there.

    "For me, all this paid off because I have been hired to work for a company and a boss who I met at an ISPE meeting. I had passed along my resume to him, and he kept me in mind. Later when a position opened up, I was called in for an interview. The ultimate goal fulfilled, now I look back and say, if it was not for ISPE and its Student Chapters, I wouldn't be doing what I love - Making a Difference."

  • Samar Yalda

    "The ISPE West Coast Leadership Forum was a great opportunity to develop the skills that any professional needs in the real world. It gave me an chance to utilize one of the most valuable resources as an ISPE member, which is networking.

    "In addiction to networking breaks, the seating arrangement was changed in each of the five different sittings. This made it easy for everyone to become familiar with one another. The opportunity to practice public speaking through short summaries of table discussions was essential in developing leadership traits.

    "The resume and interview workshops were an asset. I liked that the workshops were taught by those in the positions to hire. Their critiques on previous resumes and interviews brought to my attention the tiny details of professionalism, which I had not previously given a second thought.

    "The conference, overall, enabled me to learn leadership traits essential to a career in biotech. The biotech industry is truly a small community. I am confident that the connections made will stay with me throughout my career."

If you would like to submit your story and tell us the great things you are doing in your program of study or on your job in the pharmaceutical industry, please contact Affiliate/Chapter Relations (contact information shown on the left side of this page), or fax your story to +1-813-264-2814, attention Affiliate/Chapter Relations.