Neha Ghosh is passionate about science. Her road to the biology lab began even before she graduated from Bridgewater-Raritan High School in 2009, where she racked up 26 AP college credits, largely due to her success in eight-credit science courses. She entered Rutgers University prepared to don her lab coat for a career in her beloved bio.
And then life happened. Neha discovered at college that chemistry wasn’t her thing—and more importantly, that she craved the human contact of a career outside the lab where she could talk with people and flex her strong communication skills. “Family friends geared me toward public health,” notes Neha, 21. “Public health was very interesting because it was all about preventative medicine. I am a work-outaholic and the president of the martial arts club; health is very important to me. Because of public health, I realized I liked economics and business and because of economics, I started looking into government.”
Neha, a rising Rutgers senior, changed her college major to public health and economics, and this summer accepted an internship with the New Jersey State Employment & Training Commission (SETC) in Trenton, a state agency charged with improving the skills of New Jersey’s workforce. While Neha has worked before in a few sales-focused internships, she says that her position with the SETC is helping to directly shape her employment future through experiences and insights. “I would really like to do health advocacy work or lobbying,” says Neha, who helped her SETC colleagues organize the Women in STEM conference, held on June 15, as well as other tasks. “[My mentor here], Judy Formalarie, introduced me to Matt McDermott, chief of staff for lieutenant governor Kim Guadagno. He was a lobbyist and gave me instructions about how to go about pursuing that type of career.”
Neha sees herself eventually working in a legislative office or in the private sector for a health care company like Johnson & Johnson, advocating for issues like healthier workplaces and well-balanced school lunches. “I’ve learned that you have to be willing to sacrifice a little and volunteer your time to get where you want to be,” says Neha. “And make those connections, because they can help you later in life.”
In addition to the advice she has received, Neha values other insights she has gained through her SETC summer internship. “You’re learning how to work with people, the dynamics of people and a lot about the work environment,” she says. “It’s no longer that you can go to college and just get a job; you need that experience.”
And if you want your new connections to endure, you should do your best to make a positive impression, through your work ethic and your skills as a communicator. “The more you read, the more you’re informed and listen to the news, the more you can have a conversation,” suggests Neha. “If you live in your bubble, you’re not going to know the other side [of an issue]. People will listen to you more if you are able to use facts to formulate your own opinions.”