Meet #CrusaderIntern Chris Puntasecca ’19, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals

1.  Tell us about where you interned during your summers at Holy Cross and the kind of work you were doing.

In the summers following my sophomore and junior years, I interned with a pharmaceutical company, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, in Tarrtyown, New York. As part of their clinical affairs group, I dealt with databases associated with clinical trials for some of their drugs in development. In my first summer, I worked primarily in a data management role, assisting in the testing of new clinical databases and helping to identify potential protocol deviations and other discrepant patient data. In my second summer, I switched over to a database development role, and helped to actually design the electronic report forms for upcoming clinical trials.

2. Give us an example of how you have applied your academic learnings to your internship?

The things I learned in my biology and chemistry courses at Holy Cross definitely came in handy when working with clinical data. Part of my role involved reading through a clinical trial protocol and identifying the types of fields that would need to be present in an associated database. My experiences reading and writing lab reports at Holy Cross prepared me to read these protocols critically and ensured that I was comfortable analyzing pages of dense, technical text.

3. What planned and unplanned events connected you to your industry?  

I was eager to work in pharmaceuticals for at least a summer so that I could gain exposure to large-scale research outside of an academic setting. My initial goal was to intern in a lab, and when my employer at Regeneron ultimately offered me a position in data management, I wasn’t sure if I would find the work interesting. In the end, however, I really enjoyed the work I was involved in, as it revealed an entire aspect of the research process that I had never seen before. I had the option to switch into a “pre-clinical” research lab for my second internship, but I eventually chose to pursue database development as I saw it as a more unique opportunity to gain technical skills.

4. What were you involved in when you were on campus?

My biggest commitment on campus was on the track and field team, where I competed as a decathlete. Aside from athletics, I worked in Professor Isaacs’s organic chemistry research lab, worked as a TA, and tutored through the STEM+E workshop in academic services. I was also involved in student government for three years, and volunteered at a local rehabilitation center through SPUD.

5. What advice do you have for students on campus today?

I would tell anyone on campus to find one or two commitments that they’re truly passionate about and pursue them. While I learned a lot and truly enjoyed my involvement on campus, I found that my experiences on the track team were by far the most meaningful and the ones that come to mind most readily when I think back on my time in college. From a practical standpoint, interviewers are going to look for someone who’s driven and passionate about what they do. If you have an extracurricular commitment that really means a lot to you, you’ll not only make great friends and memories, but also have a huge advantage when answering interview questions about your growth and personal experiences in college.