1. March 2019

From Internship to Permanent Position

Katja Rehlen came upon the Women Back to Business (WBB) programme while conducting online research. During her participation in the programme, she completed an internship at Novartis in the area of Diversity & Inclusion. Today, despite the challenges and long workdays, she is more than happy with her new career.

Where are you professionally and personally right now?

I started a full-time position at Novartis at the beginning of the year as Key Account Manager in Real Estate Management. I am also married and have a daughter and a son.

Katja Rehlen
Katja Rehlen

How did you come upon the WBB programme?

I had attended seminars at the University of St. Gallen in the past. After a short career break, I was looking for suitable continuing education opportunities, and my first stop was the University of St. Gallen’s website, where I quickly found what I was looking for. What appealed to me in particular about the WBB programme was the mix of professional content and direct contact with individual companies.


Considering your background in Communication and Media Studies and Cultural Management, why did you decide on an internship at Novartis*?

Novartis offered me the opportunity to get to know the company and to prove my knowledge and skills in the area of Diversity & Inclusion. I was glad to accept the challenge. Although Novartis is a pharmaceuticals company, they also offer a wide variety of exciting career options outside the areas of medicine and chemistry.


How did your internship result in a permanent position?

I am convinced that my internship was the perfect way to build up my network, meet new people, and receive the chance for a full-time position. Given my career and background, I probably wouldn’t have received the chance to interview and speak to the right people, had my colleagues at Novartis not known me or seen my accomplishments during my internship.


How has the distribution of roles changed at home since you relaunched your career?

My husband and I need to consult with each other much more often now and discuss things like who will do what when and who is responsible for what. This is part of the transition phase that we’re in the middle of right now. On the other hand, it’s an exciting and inspiring phase, and we always find new solutions and approaches to things.


Let’s assume that your daughter asks you for advice on which profession she should choose. How would you advise her?

It’s extremely difficult to give advice on this topic. I try to tell my children that they should do what makes them happy, where they can use their strengths and invest themselves wholeheartedly.


What are your professional goals, or have you already achieved them?

Of course there is much to accomplish that still lies ahead of me. At the moment, I am thoroughly enjoying working for a large international company, where I’m learning new things each day and can feel that I’m on the right track. I don’t know where the future will lead, but I’m very excited about what it holds in store.

Executive School Programmes:
Open Programmes

Women Back to Business

The management programme for women on the move.

*Novartis is a partner company of Women Back to Business and supports the programme by providing internships, scholarships and training venues.


Interview conducted by WBB alumna Sarah Lenz Schüpbach


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About the author
Kathrin Ott Kathrin Ott studied Tourism & Hospitality Management and completed her Master of Advanced Studies in Communication Management with specialization in strategic communication, online marketing and brand management. From 2014 to 2017, she was responsible for the marketing of the Law & Management division at the Executive School. From 2015, she was in charge of marketing for the advanced education course Women Back to Business as well as for the Competence Center for Diversity & Inclusion at the Research Institute for International Management at the University of St.Gallen. Since January 2022, she has been Marketing Manager for the Open Enrolment Programs at Central Services.