Merck hosts students from INROADS College Links

Merck partnered with INROADS to launch College Links, a yearlong program for high school students in Newark.

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Merck hosted the next generation of talent on June 24 when a group of high school students toured the company’s Kenilworth site as part of the INROADS College Links program. Merck partnered with INROADS, an international nonprofit organization that prepares talented, diverse youth for corporate and community leadership, to launch College Links in Newark earlier this year.

Participants kicked off the busy day with a presentation by David Flaherty, vice president of human resources, Merck Research Laboratories. David explained Merck’s mission of inventing for life and offered pearls of wisdom about career development, saying, “Each of you need to have three people in your life, a coach – someone who you trust to give you feedback and help you get better, a mentor – someone you can go to for advice and guidance and a sponsor – someone who is in the room when you are not and can be an advocate for you.”

The scholars learned about careers at Merck during a panel discussion and Q&A session with Sherita Lee, strategic alliance manager and global leader for LEAD (League of Employees of African Descent), Danila Giacone, senior scientist, Erica Gooch, medical associate, clinical safety and risk management and Andrew Asante, quality associate specialist intern. They also got the chance to receive personalized advice during one-on-one mentoring sessions.

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Zy-Asiah Gray-Smalls, 16, an incoming junior at Newark Collegiate Academy, said her favorite part of the day was the panel called “Careers at Merck: From Campus to Corporate.”

“The panel was very diverse,” she explained. “That was something new for me because usually when we go to corporate events, women aren’t usually brought on panels. I liked that they were of color and women – it shows I can do something similar to this and I can be accepted.”

The high schoolers wrapped up the day with a 3D printing demonstration and a presentation by four STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) scientists.

Rebecca Chastang, associate director, global diversity and inclusion, said of the INROADS College Links visit, “The corporate visit day was the perfect way to conclude the College Links full year of college and career readiness programs. Students were exposed to various careers in the STEM fields, heard from a diverse panel of employees about their individual career journeys and participated in a hands-on experiment with a group of Merck scientists.”

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INROADS College Links launched at KIPP Newark Collegiate Academy in January and provides high-potential, but under-resourced high school students in 9th, 10th and 11th grade with meaningful opportunities for growth and development in business and STEM fields.

Celeste Warren, vice president of human resources and global diversity and inclusion center of excellence, said the Newark program’s focus on STEM makes it a natural fit for Merck.

“This partnership is a perfect match for our organization because it aligns with our goals and underscores our commitment to diversity and inclusion,” she said. “The corporate visit is a wonderful opportunity to expose the College Links Scholars to the various career opportunities not only at Merck but within the pharmaceutical industry.”

INROADS College Links prepares its scholars for successful college and career paths by offering year-round programs that include development seminars, mentorship, hands-on career exploration, job shadowing and more.

Merck’s partnership with INROADS College Links will help prepare young students for career success. Victoria Gemignani, a diversity and inclusion specialist in global talent acquisition, is an alumnus of an INROADS program, and said that the organization made a major impact on her career development, igniting her passion for diversity and inclusion.

Victoria is hoping the program will build future relationships between the scholars and Merck.

“If we’re able to give them exposure in advance, provide inspiration from leaders and answer their questions, we’re going to be an employer of choice for them in the future,” she said. “They’re going to realize from an early stage that we took time to mentor and develop them.”

Since INROADS was founded in 1970, it has graduated nearly 30,000 alumni into full-time professional and leadership positions with over 1,000 corporate partners. The program has also placed students in more than 135,000 paid internships throughout its history.