Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A different engineering path

Growing up, I always thought I wanted to be a doctor. I loved science and medicine and I wanted to help people overcome illnesses that science had found a cure for. That is why I applied to Penn as a bioengineering major, and decided to pursue the premed track once I got here.
Bioengineering lends itself to premed, if the student so chooses to pursue it. Almost all the premed classes are covered except for organic chemistry and an english class or two. So I decided to set down that path, as I thought it was the logical choice for my future.

But after coming to Penn, I soon realized that there were so many different things I could do with my engineering degree. The possibilities were endless. I could go to medical school... or I could be an engineer at a medical device company, go to law school, get a pHD, work in the financial industry, work in a bioengineering lab with a professor, do business consulting in the health care industry. Penn had so many possibilities, and while I always had a passion for healthcare, I thought perhaps I could also incorporate that into a growing interest in business.

I decided to pursue the Engineering Entrepreneurship minor, a fantastic option for engineering students who want to learn how to start their own business from a high-tech invention or idea developed during their four years, or for students like me who just want a more substantial business base in between the physical chemistry and biomaterials courses that consumed our schedules.

And as many students at Penn have found, summer internships are the best way to experiment with potential futures. My first summer at Penn I tried the bioengineering industry route, working in the Quality Control department of a medical device company close to my hometown. While I learned a great deal from the experience, I didn't feel it was for me. The next summer, I worked at a bank, learning more about financial products and consumer sales. But it was this past summer where I found a future that I thought I could learn so much from while still pursuing a future in healthcare.

This past summer I interned at the Boston Consulting Group in Chicago where I was able to utilize the skills I had learned in engineering, analytical problem solving, team work, and perseverance, to help answer sometimes dense and poorly defined questions and solve those tough business problems. I loved the thrill of iterating on our approach and redefining our answer throughout the summer, eventually coming up with an impactful final answer that could greatly change the course of a struggling business or continue to grow a prospering one. I plan to return next year, and hope to work on case teams in the healthcare industry, working with hospitals, and pharmaceutical companies, medical device companies and social impact health causes. I am excited to dive deeper into how our healthcare system works and work to minimize important business hurdles so the science can prevail.

While this is far from what I thought I would do when I entered Penn a little over three years ago, I feel excited for the next few years and confident that my Penn Engineering education will help me make an impact in healthcare in my future, outside the laboratory.
Questions for Lauren?  Email her at awe@seas.upenn.edu

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