Exploring the World of Digital Therapeutics

This is part of series of posts by recipients of the 2020 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they spent their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Katharine Shao, COL-WH ’22

This summer, I had the opportunity to intern at Click Therapeutics, a digital therapeutics (DTx) startup. The funding provided to me by Penn’s Career Services allowed me to pursue my passion at the intersection of healthcare and technology. Working at a digital health startup during a global pandemic opened my eyes to the important role technology plays in ensuring the continuity of healthcare at a time when in-person visits are limited.

As a strategy intern at Click, my daily responsibilities included taking deep dives into the academic and commercial landscape and bring in, or in-license, technology to enhance the value of Click’s product pipeline. I combed through hundreds of companies and academic labs from around the world, conducting due diligence on the small fraction of the relevant technologies that showed promise in clinical settings. Though not every opportunity I identified made it through the entire in-licensing process, each of them put me one step closer to understanding the digital health, biotech, and pharmaceutical landscapes.

Working at a startup also meant I had the incredible opportunity of interacting with senior management. For one of my main projects, I conducted a deep dive analysis on a potential collaboration opportunity in an emerging digital health sector. I actually had the chance, as an intern, to present my findings and strategic recommendations to the Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) and the entire strategy team. The feedback they gave me afterwards helped me hone my strategic mindset and presentational skills, valuable lessons I can apply to both my coursework and my career.

I originally worried a virtual internship during a pandemic wouldn’t allow me to have a fulfilling work experience.  In more ideal circumstances, I would’ve worked at the firm’s New York City office and had face-to-face interaction with those on my team, bonding over lunches or during company events. Even though it took a few days to adapt to the remote work environment, I realized spending my summer at home and meeting coworkers over Zoom didn’t mean I had to limit my learning experience. In fact, it actually highlighted the importance of taking initiative, both professionally and socially.

I reached out to other team members and asked for projects outside the scope of my in-licensing position, like working on initiatives in program management and strategic partnerships. When certain types of projects were either unavailable or infeasible, I instead scheduled multiple conversations with those in the finance and science divisions, eager to learn as much as I could through their computer screen. As a result, I not only achieved my goal of experiencing a holistic and cross-functional internship, but also met many bright and kind people whose advice and guidance will stick with me beyond this summer.

Overall, the internship was enriching, and it showed me the intricacies and workflow of a digital health startup’s daily operations. Working at Click Therapeutics has reinforced my desire to pursue a career in healthcare technology and innovation, and I’ve gained valuable communication, analytical, and interpersonal skills that I can bring with me in my future endeavors.

By Career Services
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