Biomedical Engineering Alum Offers Advice on How to Start Building a Career Before Graduation
Christie Chen ’20 M.S. ’21 leveraged activities and education opportunities at Stevens to land an industry career at Johnson & Johnson
Stevens Institute of Technology alumna Christie Chen ’20 M.S. ’21 received a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering (BME) at Stevens in 2020 before completing a master’s in pharmaceutical manufacturing in 2021.
In her current position as a regulatory affairs product analyst at Johnson & Johnson, Chen works on a team that collaborates with regulatory business partners to enhance their digital ecosystems, such as technical documentation repositories and medical device records inventory management systems. These data and analysis platforms enable users to make such data-driven decisions as how to get medical devices to market faster in regions with longer submission times.
Chen’s day-to-day work focuses on data analytics and insights. Supporting regulatory affairs from an IT perspective, she analyzes how many of J&J’s products were brought to market, in what region those products were placed and how to make product creation and distribution faster and more efficient.
Chen spoke highly of J&J and the tight-knit community her colleagues have created.
“Everyone has been willing to help answer questions, teach and connect you with others to further build your network,” she said.
Chen also admires J&J’s company culture, which she said emphasizes mental health and well-being and promotes a diverse, inclusive working environment. The J&J Credo, she said, guides her and her coworkers toward a common mission of putting patients, doctors, consumers and families first, as well as giving back to the J&J and affiliate communities and stockholders.
Looking back on her time at Stevens, Chen highlighted the biomedical engineering curriculum and how the program prepared her for her current position.
“The general engineering courses strengthened my problem-solving skills and allowed me to define problems, think of solutions and test the efficiency and efficacy of those ideas,” she said. “I’ve been utilizing these skills every day since graduating to bring more medical device products to market in a shorter amount of time using technology.”
In addition to technical engineering skills, Chen said her leadership and people skills were also strengthened at Stevens by working in group projects and labs.
That’s not to say her time in the classroom was always work.
Chen recalls wonderful memories made with her fellow biomedical engineering classmates, offering as an example an early morning stress test conducted in physiology lab. While most groups chose their more athletically inclined classmates to walk or run on the treadmills for the test, even they struggled to finish, especially at 8 a.m., she said.
Chen was also an active member of the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES), including serving as vice president in her senior year, and helped organize a variety of activities, like dissections, research panels and blood drives.
“One of my favorite parts of leading BMES with Joi Gomez was the fun we had organizing engaging, informative events for not only BME majors, but also anyone interested in learning more about BME,” she said.
Chen offered some advice, gleaned from both her professional experience and academic career, on how current biomedical engineering students can begin building their careers now, even before graduation.
First, she emphasized that students should start searching for jobs as early in their education as possible. Even for freshmen who may not be looking or even yet qualify for jobs, she said, keeping a pulse on the job search allows you to understand the hiring process.
Chen also highlighted the importance of networking and making the time to attend career fairs, alumni panels and company information sessions.
Finally, Chen recommended that students who are unable to work or secure a job over the summer pursue a research project instead. Participating in research, she noted, is a great way to continue building skills to add to your resume while also gaining valuable experience in the field.