In Week Two of semester one, it’s great to feature an #EdLifeSciences guest blog post from Aditi Jain, third year BSc Pharmacology student. Aditi reflects on her recent summer internship with Wockhardt UK, a global leader in healthcare and wellness products, and shares her insights on the working of a pharmaceutical company.
Hi Aditi, what motivated you to apply for this internship?
The pharmaceutical industry is one of the most competitive, rapidly changing, and strictly regulated industries in the world. This may sound daunting at first, however, it is the challenges and the limitless opportunities that it provides which have pushed me to pursue a career in this industry.
I was delighted to be offered a 12-week internship, which was divided between four departments: Research and Development (R&D) Formulations and Analytical Development, Regulatory Affairs and Pharmacovigilance, Quality Assurance and Operations Excellence. This taught me how all four departments work in collaboration to make sure the product developed and released is safe for consumption by consumers while benefitting the company.
Furthermore, I believe that the period of applying for an internship is an equally essential and life-changing experience as one thinks and reflects on their personality, ambitions, needs and wants.
Can you tell us about your main takeaways from this internship?
So, my top eight internship takeaways are:
1. Make a speculative application.
Don’t be afraid to send out your CV to companies who don’t have an advertised summer placement programme. There is no harm in applying to companies you think your grades and extra-curricular activities can match with.
2. Prepare for an interview: there is no such thing as being too prepared.
You can be asked questions about your understanding of the company, the industry, background, skillsets, among others – so be prepared. Try to be as authentic as possible so yourself and the employer can potentially see a good ‘team fit’.
3. Strategise your learning goals.
Reflect on what you would like to gain/learn at the end of your internship. Personally, the SLICC programme provided by our university really worked well. It guides one to develop reflection skills while offering the opportunity to earn academic credits. Additionally, strategising will also give you time to schedule time outside of work hours to keep your mind and body, fit and relaxed. Maintaining a good work-life balance is essential as it helps one be their productive best. And, of course, an internship can be during your summer break, so try to have some fun too!
4. Understand which skills are in demand.
Internships can help you to find out and develop skills and better prepare you for the future. I personally learnt a lot about Good Lab Practices and Good Manufacturing Practices: these are industry-specific guidelines that every professional should know in order to build a good foundation for their career. I was trained in International Regulations of the UK, EU and the US. I learnt how to use and calibrate important industrial and lab equipment such as:
- pH meters
- high performance liquid chromatography (HPLCs)
- paddle stirrers
- carry out tests such as Lactic Acid assays, HPLC Assays etc.
- how to detect signals via literature review for drug safety, create agreements with fellow manufacturers, sellers, contractors and much more.
5. Communicate effectively with people at all levels of the organisation.
This includes written communication such as email and verbal communication at face-to-face meetings where your listening skills will also be tested.
6. Create a positive working environment.
Senior employees with extremely busy schedules never failed to show me around the facility, explain the working of the equipment, clarify my doubts or check up on me; creating a positive working environment. If such individuals can do so, we as students can definitely work towards creating a positive working environment for our peers too. Remember, transferable skills such as communication, matter just as much as technical skills.
7. It’s not just about science!
Business and money is something that may be on everyone’s mind irrespective of the department you are in. This can be applied not just to a pharmaceutical company but to most companies as it is important to make sure the business is profitable. I suggest reading newsletters of the companies you’re interested in and keep up-to-date on social media with the work they’re doing.
8. The last takeaway is a piece of advice I received from a senior analytical scientist and I consider it one of the best moments of my internship:
“Do what you love. No job is perfect, but when you do what you love, it (life) becomes easier.”
For further advice on how to succeed with speculative applications, read this recent Inform.ed blog.
We can also support you with interview preparation: have a read of our advice.