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"We Belong Here": 4 Insights From a Purpose-Filled Summer Internship "We Belong Here": 4 Insights From a Purpose-Filled Summer Internship

n undergrad at Smith College and aspiring dermatologist, Dorithy Barnieh connected her lifelong passion for medicine with her deeper sense of purpose during her marketing internship this summer at Johnson & Johnson. Here's why she says, "Never be afraid to put yourself out there"—and how you can, too.


A Change in the Air...

For as long as Dorithy can remember, she's had a keen interest in medicine, pediatrics especially. "Growing up, I actually liked going to doctor's appointments," she said with a laugh. "I remember I would always ask questions: 'What is this?' 'Why do you have to check that?' 'Why are you using this piece of equipment?'"


Dorithy Barnieh, Global Practice Intern

But moving from New Jersey to Massachusetts for college brought a change to the air. Literally.

"The air in Massachusetts where I go to school is super dry, and my skin started to react," Dorithy explained.

What to do about it? Her first stop was the local pharmacy, where she bought a slew of products but saw little in the way of progress. Next, she turned to online research. "I started watching these videos, following some influencers and slowly learning more and more."

One day it dawned on her: Maybe this was her true passion. "I realized I really like skincare stuff. This is what I want to do."

So pediatrics was out, dermatology in. "I've been passionate about becoming a dermatologist ever since," Dorithy said. And after learning that leading skin-health companies were part of the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies, she made up her mind about something else, too: She wanted to join one of our marketing teams for her next summer internship.


Leaning Into Something Brand New

Wait a minute: For Dorithy, the aspiring physician, a marketing internship with Johnson & Johnson must have felt like a disconnect, right?

Not so, she said.

For starters, Dorithy's mentor put her in touch with leading dermatologists at Johnson & Johnson, who shared career guidance grounded in their own experiences. From there, she met with scientists working on projects related to skin health. "I've really had a chance to network with a wide range of people from different fields here," she said.

Over time, Dorithy's own thinking began to change as well.

"Going into college and being pre-med, I always thought that I'd have to do internships solely around research or science. But I've changed my mind on that. Because I think if you want to become a great doctor, you have to explore every area of healthcare. I'm happy I chose an internship in marketing with Johnson & Johnson because now I see how marketing works in pharmaceuticals, medical devices and all these other fields. I think understanding all of that will ultimately make me a better doctor."


Connecting Passion With Purpose

Of course, switching fields inevitably comes with a learning curve. How steep was it for Dorithy?

"All of this has been new to me," she admitted. "In the past I had done a lot of science- and math-based work, but I'd never done anything in marketing. I think the creativity involved in the work is what most surprised and impressed me."

Perhaps the same could be said of her newfound fluency with a marketer's vocabulary: campaigns, optimization, engagement. In the course of her internship, terms like these have come to seem as natural to Dorithy as "thermometer" or "stethoscope."

More importantly, a lot of what she has accomplished in the past few months connects to a deeply rooted sense of purpose for Dorithy.

"As a woman of color, it can feel intimidating to be in a corporate setting, to speak up or feel confident when you walk into a room," she observed. "But seeing how much Johnson & Johnson is pushing for diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace—not just diversity in terms of numbers or statistics—and having the chance to contribute to those efforts has been really inspiring."

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Johnson & Johnson has created an environment where people of color feel like we're accepted—we have a voice and we belong here.

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Looking Back on Day One

The very first day of a brand-new internship can feel like a place of limbo: You know there's so much you don't know, which can't be helped, but it's intimidating. Dorithy, for example, recalls hearing people use corporate lingo that she'd never heard before.

Fortunately, the discomfort proved short-lived.

"Everyone here welcomed me with open arms," Dorithy recalled. "Before every meeting I would be introduced and have a chance to talk about myself, where I'm from, what I like to do. And then in the meetings themselves, I would constantly be asked, 'Dorithy, what do you think?' People wanted to hear my input and valued what I had to share.'"

As for her first assignment that first day? Well, actually that was pretty surprising.

"Mathew Houseman, my manager and one of my mentors, told me he wanted me to write down a 'wish list'"—a list, he explained, of anything that she wanted to do, and anybody she wanted to meet, during her internship.

"He also told me I should always think big. That I should never be afraid to put myself out there. And that there's never any harm in simply asking."

It's advice Dorithy has taken to heart. "The internship really helped me with my confidence," she said. "Even just knowing how to walk into an interview and how to approach the conversation. There are a lot of things I'll take with me from this experience. I've come to the point now where I feel comfortable interrupting a meeting to say, 'I think we should add this' or 'I think we should do that, and here's why.'"

Dorithy added, "It's lively here. It's very informal and it doesn't feel forced."

She also shared a special shoutout in closing: "I want to give a shoutout to all the other interns at Johnson & Johnson. Having them there with me, knowing they were going through the same things I was, meeting with them weekly—all of that was really helpful."

Join Our Team Today

Looking for opportunities to explore your passions, take on new challenges and be challenged to grow—all within a supporting, inclusive environment? If so, learn more about internships at Johnson & Johnson, and if you're ready, check out all of the opportunities to join our team today as well.

Finally, before you go, think about signing up for our Global Talent Hub, too. It's a great way to stay in touch, learn more about life at Johnson & Johnson and even get updates about jobs that might interest you in the future.

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