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Daniel Young, a junior studying chemical engineering, has been declared Intern of the Year by Career Development Services (CDS) at NJIT. CDS held its second annual Interns of NJIT contest this past fall and selected Young in January. In addition to the title, he has received a $500 cash prize that will go toward his tuition.

“Our contest selection committee unanimously chose Daniel as the winner of the contest based on the enthusiasm he showed in his testimonial and an exceptional letter of recommendation from his supervisor at L’Oréal, who described him as ‘a true team player who consistently displays high standards in the level of his work and communication,’” said Patrick Young, CDS associate director of employer relations. “The committee was particularly impressed with his takeaways from L’Oréal, including ‘not only technical skills … but also soft skills such as coordinating large, time-sensitive projects and following up with co-workers regarding deadlines.’” 

Here, Young remarks on his time at L’Oréal, his participation in the contest and his plans after NJIT.

ON INTERNING AT L’ORÉAL

Young is on L’Oréal’s Homologation and Compatibility (or “HomCom”) team. The lab in which he works supports the packaging end of L’Oréal’s manufacturing process.

“We basically look at the relationship between the product and the package,” said Young, whose specific role focuses on product-and-package compatibility and involves leading the BPA-free project for aluminum-tube hair dyes. Research has suggested that BPA, a chemical found in plastics and resins, may be a carcinogen, so L’Oréal is looking to move away from using it.

“Up until now, these tubes have been using a varnish … on the inside of the tube that has BPA in it,” Young noted. “I’m doing all of the testing on switching over from that BPA varnish to a BPA-free varnish.”

To test the impact of the BPA-free varnish, Young fills aluminum tubes with hair dye and places them in an oven at 45 degrees Celsius for 60 days, a setting that simulates the required three years of shelf life for all L’Oréal products. He then opens up the tubes to scrape out the hair dye and examines them under a microscope to check for corrosion or anything else that might prove harmful to the consumer.

Young had been interested in interning at L’Oréal since his freshman year and was able to connect with the company’s human resources department with contact information he obtained from a fellow Highlander. He started a 24-hour-a-week co-op at L’Oréal’s Clark, N.J., location in August 2018 that took him through the fall semester. When he asked for an extension into the spring, the company agreed to a full-time gig that complements two courses he’s taking at NJIT.

Working at L’Oréal is very fast-paced, he says, which “forces you to think independently and really understand and own what you’re doing.”

Career Development Services' Intern of the Year contest winner Daniel Young

ON BEING NAMED CDS’ INTERN OF THE YEAR

Real-world work experience has come to hold great import for Young, who before coming to NJIT was advised by an older cousin to secure internships and co-ops. As a freshman, he joined a nanobubbles research project led by Civil Engineering Professor Jay Meegoda. This led to a summer internship at the Passaic Valley Water Commission and then a co-op at a specialty-chemicals company prior to L’Oréal.

“The award from CDS, actually I think it really just displays how deliberate I was … in seeking out these experiences,” he said.

Young knew he was up against many other students interning at large, well-known companies, but still thought he had a “good shot” at winning the competition. When he received an email from CDS in January announcing that he had won, one of the first persons he told was his girlfriend.

“I was really excited,” he remembered, and then added, “I believe it was clear in my application that I have a very good understanding of the importance and significance of getting these internship experiences.”

ON POSSIBLY PURSUING A BUSINESS ROLE WITHIN A COSMETICS OR CHEMICAL COMPANY

Although Young doesn’t graduate until next May, he’s been ruminating on his career: “Although I really do enjoy working in the lab at L’Oréal, I realized I don’t want to be working in a lab setting … so maybe less of a technical role,” he offered. “To be honest, I’m really still trying to figure out what I want to do.”

He credits NJIT and the opportunities he’s been given through the university with helping him to both gain worthwhile experience and build his professional profile.

“NJIT has relationships with top companies in many different fields — this is invaluable,” he said. “All students should take full advantage through career fairs, Handshake [CDS’ recruiting platform] and general networking.”