10 week pharmacy summer placement student Pharmaceutical Techology and Development.
I thoroughly enjoyed my summer placement at AstraZeneca. Initially, I thought a 10 week placement would feel like forever, but it flew over! In the first week we were given a lot of training to ensure we were competent and felt comfortable carrying out the lab work required of our project and then we were able to get stuck in. I learnt a lot from the work I carried out and was able to use equipment I had never used before to carry out testing and generate data. In the penultimate week of our placement, each of the seven pharmacy summer students, including myself, gave a 15 minute presentation about our project and the results we had generated. This was a great opportunity to see what the other students had been doing during their time at AstraZeneca and to learn something new, as all of the projects were so diverse!
Everyone I spoke to was friendly and more than willing to speak to me and answer my questions. As a group, the seven pharmacy summer students organised meetings with numerous pharmacists working at AstraZeneca to find out about their career path from University up until their current position. All of them gave up at least an hour of their time to talk with us and were really engaging and inspiring. These meetings highlighted that as a pharmacist, there are so many opportunities within the pharmaceutical industry. I felt particularly valued by my colleagues in Product Development who were involved with my project as many of them regularly asked how I was getting on and were interested to see the data I had collected.
My supervisor contacted me via email before the placement began to tell me a bit more about my project and to introduce himself. In the first week, he clearly outlined the work he wanted to me carry out and the data he wanted me to collect during my time at AstraZeneca then allowed me to work at my own pace and manage my own time to complete the work. Throughout the project he answered any questions I had and gave me support, guidance and assistance when needed. He also put me in contact with some of his colleagues who are specialised in operating the equipment I was using so they could show me how to use it and help me understand my results. When I was producing my project presentation to deliver in the last week, I found his constructive criticism particularly helpful!
When at placement there was always something to do. When organising my time, it was important to get a balance between lab work and office work so I could keep on top of all of the work I was carrying out. Some days, I found lab equipment I needed to use was being used by someone else, so I would change my plan for the rest of the day to make best use of my time. During my placement there were numerous organised meetings with the people involved with my project and pharmacists working at AstraZeneca, I went on a tour of the new Zoladex facility, the manufacturing plant and the packing hall and took part in the PharmFocus Day organised by the Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences. There was not a single day of placement where I was twiddling my thumbs!
During my placement, I was responsible for managing my own time to complete the work and collect the data as outlined by my supervisor in the first week. Following the training we received, we were able to work alone in the labs and were in charge of ensuring the area were working in was clean and safe. I was also responsible for ensuring my lab write up was clear so that my work could be replicated or someone could carry on from where I finished.
During my placement, I worked as part of a team and individually, I had to effectively manage my time so I could complete the work required before the end of the placement and I had to write up the methods and results from my lab work clearly. I also had to prepare and deliver a 15 minute presentation about my project that was following by 5 minutes of questions from the audience. This placement has enhanced my enthusiasm for working in the pharmaceutical industry placement but I feel the skills I have developed will make me a better rounded pharmacist in the future no matter which career path I take.
There were 9 people in my office, including myself, who all had different backgrounds and covered a variety of roles within AstraZeneca. All of them were really friendly and offered help when needed. In the last week of placement we went out for a team lunch as another member of the team and I were leaving on the Friday which I thought was really nice and thoughtful!
The summer placement was very well organised. The information we received before we arrived was clear and informative and told us what to expect, where to report to on the first day and at what time. The placement was very well structured and I always had something to be doing. During the placement, we were given plenty of notice about the date and time of the pre-registration interview and project presentation and given material to help us prepare.
In the first week of our placement I received a lot of training which ensured I understood the health and safety guidelines that need to be followed when working at AstraZeneca. I was also shown how to work safely in the lab, how to operate the equipment I was using and how to record my experimental method and results as required on the electronic lab notebook. I now feel competent using equipment I had never used before my placement.
I really enjoyed working at AstraZeneca for 10 weeks and would definitely consider working for them in the future once I have completed my degree. It was a lovely environment to work in and all of the staff was so enthusiastic about the work they were doing. Everyone I got the chance to speak to loved working for AstraZeneca and many of them had been there for several years.
A man working in Pharmaceutical Development organised a weekly walk in the Peak District which numerous AstraZeneca employees and summer students attended. The summer students also attended a pub quiz most Monday nights at a local pub and went bowling most Thursday nights. In the last week of my placement, the team I was a part of went out for lunch as a farewell to the sandwich student in our team and myself.
While I was on placement I stayed in a Travelodge which was not the cheapest form of accommodation available. Many of the other summer placement students rented a room which was better value for money. There is plenty to do in Macclesfield and in the surrounding areas for a reasonable price. The summer placement students met up multiple evenings a week to go bowling, for dinner, to the cinema and to pub quizzes.
There are plenty of pubs in Macclesfield that the summer students frequently visited on an evening after work. The pub quiz held on a Monday night was great fun and the local teams were tough competition! The pharmacy summer students also went to the local nightclub in the last week to celebrate nearing the end of the 10 week placement.
There were lots of opportunities to get involved in activities outside of work and numerous employers sent out emails to let you know about things that had been organised. A man working in Pharmaceutical Development organised a weekly walk in the Peak District and a sandwich student organised a few games of handball which numerous AstraZeneca employees and summer students attended. There was also pub quizzes, bowling and the cinema to keep us busy after work!