Beth Parks

The Biochemistry and Molecular Biology major has been a great academic and social fit for me. As a senior, I feel confident in my ability to tackle new problems and present my opinion in meaningful ways. The support from the BMB faculty & my peers has helped me to get to where I am today and the journey has been so much fun!

Sophomore year my goal was to be involved in research, preferably during an internship. I went to resume workshops given by the career services, BMB Club events, and career fairs. I stumbled upon Inroads, a non-profit organization aimed at connecting students with internships. The Inroads process included submitting an application, attending a career workshop, and completing a mock interview. Not only did Inroads connect me with an internship at Pfizer, they also prepared me to enter the professional world.

I attribute my academic background, work ethic, and a bit of luck to the research opportunities that I had. During my first internship, between my sophomore and junior year, I worked with a team of computational chemists at Pfizer doing an in-depth analysis of free energy perturbation calculation technology to determine the advantages and limitations. When I returned to UMass Amherst I began an independent study in Dr. Schnell’s laboratory exploring the mechanisms behind protein transport in plants, where I gained meaningful skills in bench laboratory research. I was able to build upon these skills during my second internship, between my junior and senior year, where I worked in the hematology group at Pfizer investigating therapeutic targets for treatment of hemophilia and sickle cell disease.

Looking back on my experiences I am pleasantly surprised at how prepared I was to handle the challenges I faced. For example, organic chemistry provided me with the necessary language to discuss the computational chemistry data during my first internship. My introductory biochemistry laboratory course taught me basic lab skills giving me the opportunity to learn more complex techniques during my independent study and hematology internship. Meanwhile, Inroads and BMB Club events helped me shape my professional identity.

My experiences also allowed me to network with exceptional professors, supervisors, scientists in both academia and industry, and professionals outside of science. Many of these individuals became my mentors, who have shown sincerely interest in helping me find and prepare for a career that I feel passionately about. Thanks to my BMB academic core, research experiences, and mentors I am excited to be pursuing a career in genetic counseling!