As a young professional, Fred Defesche earned an opportunity to work as an intern, a position that helped pave the way for him to eventually become founder of a boutique pharmaceutical regulatory consulting firm, RegCon Solutions of San Diego.
Today, Defesche remains committed to his intern roots and works to extend such opportunities to other professionals within the regulatory affairs community. Although some companies shy away from adopting internship programs, he believes doing so results in missed opportunities of significant value. Additionally, he suggests offering interns experience serves “goodwill” and knows firsthand how internships can bring substantial worth to the life sciences industry. His experience demonstrates the positive side of internships and proves how the adoption of well executed programs should be considered a solution for managing entry level work.
Many firms, both large and small, underestimate how interns can effectively impact workload through the execution of a few simple processes. Often, interns can accomplish important, basic and time-consuming responsibilities that will allow time for the more seasoned employees to focus on higher level obligations. Defesche believes that in order to adopt a successful internship program, certain steps should take place:
Identify which tasks are best suited for entry level professionals, yet still provide learning experiences
Ensure the job description clearly outlines responsibilities and the necessary skills or aptitudes required to accomplish each
Openly discuss expectations with candidates, internship objectives and compensation as well as possibilities for advancement within the company or any industry related networking opportunities
Invest in an orientation program that will quickly introduce the company, its culture and values
Another one of the greatest components of successful internship experiences is the acquisition of higher quality applicants who possess the basic skills desired to meet the needs of the company. This is especially important if the overall objective is to evaluate interns to determine whether or not they have the potential to become a long-term employee.
Defesche attributes his recent intern placement success to a program offered through the San Diego Regulatory Affairs Network (SDRAN). The SDRAN internship program involves connecting local life sciences companies to candidates who are also part of its membership and have newly acquired regulatory affairs education and seek supervised regulatory experience.
SDRAN recruits intern candidates by posting internship positions on its website, www.sdran.org, as well as by sending direct mail to members, posting on social media sites, and contacting local universities (including UC San Diego Extension). The application process requires each candidate to submit their resume along with two letters of recommendation and a statement describing what they hope to accomplish throughout the duration of the internship. The SDRAN committee screens each application prior to forwarding to hiring managers. Participating companies then choose candidates to interview and select the most suitable.
This process provided Defesche with an overall positive experience and an even more notable outcome. In fact, he was so impressed with candidates, he said, “We quickly realized that the ‘interns’ were ideal employees for our company and converted them into full time positions.”
Together with SDRAN, Defesche joins part of a recent trend to develop roles that serve as a catalyst to cultivate talent within life sciences, and specifically regulatory affairs professions. Efforts aim to help interns gain practical experience in a mentoring environment to evolve best practices as they relate to newly learned FDA regulations. This systematic technique helps benefit interns by teaching them how these regulations should be approached or applied in specific scenarios. He believes companies should learn how adopting similar internship programs will help serve this greater purpose while also providing the opportunity to function as a prospective employer seeking candidates to “try out” without heavy financial commitment.
In response to this need, SDRAN and UC San Diego Extension partnered to offer a workshop designed to provide winning strategies for internship programs, showcasing success stories from a top life-sciences firm in San Diego. The workshop took place 8 a.m. Thursday, November 5 at UC San Diego Extension’s University City Center.