Kaitlin McCarthy ’10

JOB TITLE: Development and research associate scientist II
ORGANIZATION: BioHelix Corporation
LOCATION: Beverly, Massachusetts

What was your first position after college? My first position after college was as a research associate scientist at BioHelix Corp. I am now the development and research associate scientist II. I ended up here by taking advantage of the extensive internships that are available in the biotechnology industry during my summers. I had interned with another company in the same area for two summers and then, during the summer going into my senior year, with the horrible economy, I decided I should gain some knowledge in another field. I was offered an internship with BioHelix. It was a very small company at the time and, as a result, I was given a lot more responsibility as an intern than I would have been at a larger company. As my senior year came to an end, I e-mailed the CEO of BioHelix to ask for a letter of recommendation. He called me a few hours later and asked if I would be interested in a job at BioHelix. I said absolutely, and the rest is history.

Has a liberal arts education helped you in shaping your career? Yes. I attended an institute of technology for my first year of college before transferring to Trinity. When you enter this type of school, you choose a major immediately or sometimes even before you get there. Once you are admitted to a particular program, that discipline is all you focus on. And while this absolutely works for some people, many (including myself) are not well served by this kind of learning experience. Instead of being able to supplement your core education with courses that interest you (such as political science or English) and make you a more well-rounded individual, you are kept on rigid train tracks that lead only to your degree. At Trinity, I had the ability to try my hand in a little bit of everything, and being able to study both science and other fields helps me converse with people outside the lab on a day-to-day basis. This also gave me the ability to look at a scientific problem in a different light, and I think outside the box more easily than many of my co-workers. My work has also even been published in a scientific journal. I don’t think this would have been easy if I hadn’t taken a few writing-intensive classes along the way.   

All of my Trinity experiences, and any experience I had leading up to attending Trinity, have shaped my career. I played on the women’s ice hockey team, volunteered on Do It Day, and made excellent networking connections while at Trinity. I also was attractive to employers because of the lab work I did.

What advice would you give to Trinity students to prepare for a position in your field? Probably the best advice I got during my college career came from a biochemistry professor who told me that if I had an opportunity to make an imprint in the industry that I wanted to work in, I should absolutely take it. That is what I did, and I have had a very successful career this far, although it is still young. In addition, get an internship every summer during your college career. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but get real industry experience. Show companies that you have a work ethic. A little experience goes a long way when you are trying to stand out among your peers upon graduation.