Two William Paterson alumni with decades of experience in their roles with major New Jersey healthcare institutions offered their insights on opportunities and challenges in the industry, as well as their advice to University students seeking to enter the field, during a recent event on campus.
Adam Beder ’99, vice president for government affairs at Hackensack Meridian Health, and Sara Jones ’00, vice president for workforce experience at Atlantic Health System, spoke to more than 120 students, both in person and on Zoom, about their experiences in their respective roles.
Beder, who began at William Paterson as a music major, became involved in student government on campus and switched his major to political science. Through his role in student government, he made connections with campus administrators, who helped him get an interview, and subsequently his first job, with a lobbying firm, which launched his two-decade career.
“Your network starts with the friends and relationships you make here,” said Beder. “It’s all about going out with the intent to build relationships, maintain them, and leverage them.” He acknowledged that opportunity might not be equally distributed, but every student has unique talents that can provide value to the workforce. “If you are the first person in your family to go to college, you may have to work extra hard to build your network and find a niche where you can contribute the most to the world,” he added.
Jones, who was the first in her entire family to go to college, transferred to WP after a year at Bergen Community College, majored in communication and found her niche as a resident assistant and as president of her honor society. “I really wasn’t focused in high school,” she told the students. “I loved being at WP, and I was motivated by the feeling of momentum and success I achieved, especially when I got into that honor society.”
Healthcare is a field you can work in for the rest of your life, with job security,” Jones said, noting the need for nurses and speech and occupational therapists, as well as for employees in cybersecurity, finance, and marketing. “You have to have drive and a connection to the work you are doing.”
Both Beder and Jones encouraged the students to use all the resources available to them on campus through the Career Development Center. They also welcomed the students to connect with them on LinkedIn and provided tips on topics such as how to start the job search, interviewing, negotiating a first job offer, and networking.
Beder, who began his career with MWW Public Relations, served as legislative director for New Jersey’s 18th District Assembly Office, and as deputy director for legislation and policy for the New Jersey Hospital Association. He joined JFK Health in 2006 as vice president for government affairs, and in 2018 was named vice president for government health for Hackensack Meridian. A 1999 graduate of William Paterson with a bachelor’s degree in political science, he holds an MBA from Rider University.
Jones, who graduated from the university in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in communication, began her career in human resources as a recruiter for a number of companies. She later transitioned to healthcare in 2006, joining St. Clare’s Health System, where she worked as an HR business partner for six years before joining Toys R Us. In 2017, she joined Atlantic Health System as regional director for workforce experience, and was promoted her to her current role as vice president in 2023.
The event, coordinated by the Career Development Center, the College of Science and Health, and the Office of Institutional Advancement, was designed to connect WP students with alumni. “These two alumni exemplify the possibilities of your own future,” said Venkat Sharma, dean of the College of Science and Health. “They sat in the same seats you are sitting in, and today, they are respected healthcare industry leaders who are giving back to you with their insights.”
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