Women in Science: Forging a Path
After graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Genetics from University College Cork, Co. Kerry native Shauna Corcoran was determined to begin her career as a woman in science. Upon graduation, many of Shauna’s friends were applying to master’s programs, but she felt she would gain more from hands-on experience working in the industry.
Like many young Irish people, Shauna longed to work in the US through the J-1 visa program thinking that this visa would give her “something different, and exciting… something outside of my comfort zone.”
Given the influence of world-renowned universities, including Harvard and MIT in the sciences, specifically in biology and genetics, Shauna was drawn to the historic city of Boston as the launching point for her career. The abundance of brilliant scientists here has driven the profession science to new heights and Shauna’s dream for her year in Boston was to work alongside accomplished scientific minds so that she could be “influenced and surrounded by these people and just hope to take in as much as possible along the way.”
As it has been for many of the young Irish Exchange Visitors who come over on the visa, the internship search was initially harder than anticipated. However, the trials and tribulations did not sway Shauna; instead, they propelled her forward. She saw that “with hard work and a bit of patience, opportunities began to appear.” Also critical were her networking ability and her absolute dedication to establishing her career in biological science.
“I have always been passionate about supporting women in science, so I joined an organization called Women Accelerators, which empowers women in business and science,” she said. This organization helped shape Shauna’s experience; she not only had the ability to network and meet influential people, but she also had worked as an event coordinator, which allowed her “to gain even more than just work experience.”
What’s next? For now, Shauna wants to absorb as much knowledge as she can from her biology internship and lab experience and develop further confidence in her new skill set. “My experience here has attracted me to areas I would never have considered before,” she says.
From arriving in Boston, to gaining a role as a research intern at a drugs discovery start-up, to testing therapeutic hypotheses for the treatment of inflammatory diseases, Shauna has forged her own path. As a recent graduate, she is well on her way to launching her career as a woman in science, in no small part due to the unique opportunities afforded by the J-1 visa.