J&J’s Pathway to Success Program Sharpens Employability Skills: Meet Sharon Edelman

This World Youth Skills Day, Johnson & Johnson’s Women in STEM2D youth program is excited to spotlight Sharon Edelman, a Phoenixville, PA native. She currently studies at Millersville University where she is a Junior majoring in biology with a concentration in pre-optometry.

Sharon is an active participant in Johnson & Johnson’s Pathway to Success program, the college-level follow-on program to J&J’s Bridge to Employment program.

During her involvement with these two programs starting in high school, Sharon says she has acquired multiple employability skills that are valued in STEM careers.

In particular, she mentions collaboration, critical thinking, and communication skills as especially desirable for a career in STEM. Each of these “helps me in my (remote) internship every day with Johnson & Johnson Vision Care out of Jacksonville, Florida.”

Collaboration she says, “opens up your ideas to adaptation from others and allows you to learn more” than if you were working on your own. “Collaborating helps you maximize what you get out of a project.” Sharon admits that collaborating used to be a bit difficult for her, but because of Pathway to Success, she has learned how to talk to others, which also improves her communication skills.

As an example, she says, “You might only understand a, b, c, and one of your colleagues might understand x, y, z.” Being able to connect those dots and add more insights is extremely valuable. Collaborating enables the whole team to “build upon each other’s ideas which makes problem solving a lot easier.”

In June 2021, Sharon started a (remote) internship in Global Medical Affairs with Johnson & Johnson Vision Care. Sharon’s role is to conduct literature research on the wetting agents used in contact lens polymers, packing solutions, and multi-purpose cleaning solutions – with a focus on the impact these components may have on the eye. As a requirement of her internship, Sharon will summarize her findings and present them to the wider Johnson & Johnson Vision Care Medical and Science teams in her last week of work, at the end of July.

Sharon’s daily routine starts with some self-directed questions, such as: "What does this wetting agent do? What is its interaction with the eye? She says that if she can’t find results from her article research, she uses her collaboration skills to reach out to her broader team members to ask for their input. “Then I can use my critical thinking skills to take what they have said along with my own research results to analyze this information and summarize it in my own words.” This process of structured thinking helps her better understand and retain what she is learning.

Sharon expressed her deep gratitude for this summer’s job opportunity from Pathway to Success and Johnson & Johnson Vision Care. She is committed to using this experience to excel in her biology coursework, and to lay the groundwork for her future career. She says her overall goal is to get as much experience as possible in STEM and in vision specifically before she finishes her undergraduate studies. She is confident this will prepare her well for optometry school and lead to a successful future career in her chosen field.

Visit stem2d.org/WYSD2021 to explore activities and hear more youth voices on the interactive World Youth Skills Day 2021 map, and show your support by downloading the #STEM2D #WYSD social media photo frame and video conferencing background.