Caitlin Reid arrived at Oregon State University knowing she wanted to do something in science. She’s leaving with a job in hand at one of the most prominent biotech companies in the world.
Caitlin graduated at the end of winter term 2020 with her Honors Bachelor of Science in bioengineering. She then immediately started a job at Genentech, a company known for developing the first targeted antibodies for cancer.
“I thought I wanted to go to medical school, but then I decided not to,” Caitlin says. “I loved science in high school, but I really loved having the engineering aspect to it because it was a little more of a job security.”
The breadth of opportunities offered by Oregon State, paired with the small college community of the Honors College, gave her all the resources she needed to explore her interests in the fields of science and engineering, and she took advantage of those resources to the fullest.
During her five-year college career, Caitlin participated in the Chemical, Biological, and Environmental Engineering Student Club, did community service through Greek life, worked as a teaching assistant and a grader for several courses and served as an Honors College student ambassador.
“Always read your email,” she says. “You get a lot of them and it takes time, but I’ve gotten a lot of opportunities, all from reading emails that a lot of people just delete.”
Through the School of Chemical, Biological, and Environmental Engineering’s Pete and Rosalie Johnson Internship Program, Caitlin found a position in Dr. Elain Fu’s research lab, where she cycled through various projects until she found one that piqued her interest. That project eventually became the basis for her honors thesis, “Ink and Substrate Compatibility for Electrochemical Sensing in Paper-Based Devices.”
“The way I see it,” she says, “there are two ways you start your thesis: You can either have your mentor first or your idea first. I had my mentor first.”
The Johnson internship led to an interest in Genentech, which led to an internship at Genentech’s Hillsboro Process Engineering Department.
“It was a life-altering experience to see what I was actually capable of committing to and what I was capable of completing.”
That initial experience with Genentech resulted in her working as a contractor for Genentech through her last two years at Oregon State.
“I just graduated college, and I already have two years of experience,” she says.
Caitlin credits an Honors College Dean and Friends lunch – a series of lunches the college offers with alumni and other supporters – for helping her get the position with Genentech.
“I tried to go to as many Dean and Friends lunches as I could,” she says. “I felt those were very beneficial for networking purposes.”
The lunch she found particularly helpful featured a guest speaker discussing interviewing etiquette, as well as tips and tricks for making yourself a more eligible candidate.
“The biggest point they made was to interview the job as much as they’re interviewing you,” she says. “I always try to attribute my interview to this event that I went to.”
In September of 2020, Caitlin plans to move to San Francisco to join Genentech’s leadership development program. There, she will spend the next two years working in four different departments to explore different parts of the organization and find the one she wants to work in.
The last few months have passed quickly for Caitlin, but she’s excited to start the next chapter in her life.
“It’s been a whirlwind of activity,” Caitlin says. “But I always try to tell myself that for everything in life you get out whatever you put in.”
After the switch to remote learning and working in spring 2020, we reached back out to Caitlin to see how things are going. She is currently living in Hillsboro.
Although Caitlin finished her schooling at the end of winter term 2020, she has had a similar experience to many students in adjusting to the stay-at-home mandate.
“I am lucky enough to be able to work remotely, but I still occasionally have to go in due to the nature of my tasks,” Caitlin says.
When she’s not working, Caitlin spends her time reading, doing embroidery and watching TV; a recent injury has made her less active than she otherwise would be.
Like many others, Caitlin has been taking life one day at a time to make it through this difficult period.
“Everything is always changing so drastically all the time,” she says. “I would encourage everyone to take each day as it comes.”
By Lucas Yao: Student Writer, Honors College