Searching for the Secrets to Success in a Career in Science
Alumna Zoe Amaris ’17 shows the value and impact of hard work and community on the journey to her career at Genentech.
By Sarah Stoddard ’23
What are the keys to success in a professional career? For Zoe Amaris ’17 (Biochemistry), hard work and community are the most important values. She believes a successful team should be defined by a strong sense of community. And in her field, she has learned that one of the greatest ways to succeed is simply by hard work and practice, rather than talent. From her time as a student at Santa Clara University to her role as a Technical Development Research Associate at Genentech, Zoe has always valued community collaboration and emphasized the importance of grit over grades.
Driven and passionate, Zoe is filled with tons of ambition to excel in her field. She was drawn to SCU after hearing stories from other students already taking huge steps in their careers as undergraduates. She saw the support they received and admired the many opportunities students had to work closely with research professors. With the blueprint of what she wanted out of her college experience in hand, Zoe went on to major in Biochemistry with minors in Biology and Public Health and even got the opportunity to work in Korin Wheeler’s (Chemistry & Biochemistry) lab. While Zoe’s studies at SCU were obviously science-focused, this was not always the path she had envisioned for herself.
“I felt like I didn’t really have an aptitude for the subject,” Zoe says, remembering her experiences with science throughout her childhood. But during high school, she had somewhat of an epiphany after receiving a good grade in a science class she had been struggling in. “I realized a lot of your ability to do science isn’t really aptitude. It’s how much hard work you’re going to put in, and how much effort. It’s practice.” This is the same attitude she held throughout her journey at Santa Clara. When she was doing research in the Wheeler lab, she was reminded that her capability in science was not based on her grades, but rather, her grit.
Zoe recalls the incredible sense of community that was present in her labs at SCU. “I just really enjoyed those summers doing research and kind of just hanging out with the team,” she says. There was especially a sense of camaraderie within the Chemistry & Biochemistry department among the smaller group of students. Zoe values community in any group, and today, she works to build community within her small workplace labs.
Having heard of Genentech from a former student in the Wheeler lab, Zoe started at the company in a 6-month internship, then transitioned into a two year Pharma Technical Operations rotational program. Currently, she works full time on an analytical team as a Technical Development Research Associate developing test methods for potential drugs. The team Zoe works on is small, similar to the small team of students in the Wheeler Lab, allowing for a deep sense of community and collaboration to be built. She still struggles with a feeling of imposter syndrome at times, due to the fact that science wasn’t always her forte. But during her two-year rotational program, she worked hard to build camaraderie amongst the people in the program and created many social events where they could collaborate. In her current role, she says that one of her favorite aspects is the great sense of community the company fosters.
Conscious of the way she was drawn to Santa Clara through hearing about the experiences of current students, Zoe recently came back to SCU as a Genentech representative on a panel for the Biomedical Engineering Society. She also hopes to conduct a similar workshop for Chemistry & Biochemistry students. Because she was introduced to Genentech through SCU, she hopes to be able to give back to current students by telling her story and sharing about opportunities available within the company.
About advancing in one’s professional career, Zoe says, “A lot of it is you putting in the effort, but it’s really your mentors and mentees helping each other out. There is a sense of mentorship and giving back—you move forward, and you pull the people behind you as well.” Zoe has learned a lot about the importance of hard work and building community throughout her journey, and she hopes to share her insights with current students to give back to the community that gave so much to her.
Dec 15, 2020
Zoe Amaris presenting a poster her junior year