Women in engineering were few, but that didn't stop Susan Geekie in pursuing a related career. She searched the Web and found an engineering organization, the Institute of Industrial Engineering, where she read about careers with an engineering degree. "I saw Industrial Engineering and I thought ‘Wow!'" Her parents had actually suggested this some time before, but.... well....
Susan earned a BS in Industrial Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology. Roche offered her an internship during a college career fair. She took it, working on the packaging line where drugs are boxed for distribution--the last stage of the manufacturing process.
She studied each job position's efficiency. "Engineering is math-focused and adaptable to a manufacturing environment where work is done by humans and machines. It works at streamlining human productivity," she says. The theoretical nature of engineering degrees makes it important to get job experience in college. The extra time to complete the degree is worth it, she says, adding, "A 22-year-old with an engineering degree and experience is a commodity. Employers are clamoring to hire them."
So Roche offered her a job. "It was the type of company I wanted," recalls Susan."I have an appreciation for pharmaceuticals. How important is a can of soda? You put a little more into perspective when you help create something that affects people's lives."
Roche produces products for illnesses like HIV and cancer. "A job is great for getting money. But in the end you want to make yourself happy. It's satisfying to know I'm helping people who are suffering with debilitating diseases."
Susan started work full-time in 2000. For two years she created studies for stress-testing machines and processes to meet Food and Drug Administration guidelines.
Now, four years later at age 26, Susan is an analyst on a marketing team for Tamiflu, a flu treatment and prevention medication. She crunches numbers--financial analyses and forecast sales for every year over the next 10 years--so that the company will manufacture the right amount of Tamiflu.
Her next stop? Sales rep. "Now that I've crunched numbers, I want to go out and see how they apply." As a member of the Roche Leadership Development Program, she currently changes jobs every year or two.
Susan appreciates the big-company opportunities and benefits she gets from Roche, but basks in the small company feel. "It's a very close-knit community. You don't feel like a number." Through the Tuition Reimbursement Program, she recently earned her MS in Systems Engineering from the Steven's Institute of Technology. And because of Roche's commitment to keeping its employees healthy, she's in the gym every morning before work. Once a week during the school year, a third-grade class from Paterson comes to the Roche offices to participate in the company's Tutoring Program. Susan and other employees help the students one-on-one with their homework, time she finds especially enriching.
"I love my job," says Susan. "I want to become more business-oriented. Roche wants to grow me as an individual. Having worked in manufacturing, I know how the products are made. It gives me a unique perspective that some people don't have."
Susan Geekie's Advice: - Education makes you powerful. - Gather info to make educated decisions. - If you have an interest, use the Web to learn about related jobs and organizations - Where do you want to be? Come up with manageable goals for the next two years. - Write them down. - Approach other people--teachers, a boss. Use them as resources to learn more about your goals and how you can improve yourself. - Choose a major based upon what you want to do. -Visualize the future.