I have really enjoyed my placement year. I wouldn't rate it as the best job ever as I do not see myself in this particular role in the future as personally I would prefer a more lab based role. However, my placement has been a great insight into the pharmaceutical industry and has confirmed that I would love to work in this industry in the future. The only "struggle" has been my work load at times as at points I have either had no work or have felt overloaded. But my team are so understanding and approachable that if I have any issues I know I can mention it to them and it will always get resolved. This has helped make my placement a very enjoyable experience as I have a very supportive team and I am treated like every other employee rather than just the intern.
I feel completely valued by my colleagues! I think this has been the biggest benefit of working for MSD. I am given important work and get to join in with projects with people all across site. I don't feel like the intern, I feel like a valuable member of the company. There have been times where projects would not have been able to be completed, or at least not as quickly, without my contribution. As well as the work side of things, my colleagues also invite me to social events such as their christmas night out or there was a big site function I was invited to. They also always involve me in conversation and seem genuinely interested to learn more about me. There is such a warm feeling on site at MSD, everyone always says hello or good morning when you walk past them and is always up for a conversation.
I have been given a lot of support and guidance by both my manager and supervisor. In terms of support, we have a daily team meeting where we go through the work we have for the day and so I get asked every morning if I need any help with anything. This was especially good for the first few months of my placement as it was the perfect opportunity to speak up if I didn't feel comfortable doing so at another time. I also have regular 1 to 1s with my manager where we have a long discussion about the work I have, again if I need any help and if there are any projects I'd like to get involved with or anything I'd like to learn more about. In terms of guidance, I tend to work more directly with my supervisor and from day 1 she made it clear that if I needed any help with my work to just give her a shout and she'd be straight over. She has stuck to her word and so I've never felt like I have to sit in silence. She also never starts me off on a project or on work without setting up a meeting with me to give me background on it or discuss the main objectives.
This varies from day to day. There have been days, particularly towards the start of my placement, where I didn't have much work on and so would spend a fair bit of time shadowing people, observing or attending meetings simply to get more background on the company. Although, I wasn't busy in terms of work it helped to fill my day up so that there was never a day where I was just sat "twiddling my thumbs". On the other hand, more recently there have been days where I have had a lot of dealines to meet so I have had to work some extra hours to get everything done. Then there have been days where my work is perfectly balanced. Although not always ideal, I think it is good that my work load has varies as it has given me a more realistic representation of working life.
In the first few months of my placement I wasn't given very much responsibility. Simply because there are a lot of rules and regulations within the pharmaceutical industry and so before completing certain jobs I would have to become fully trained. I had a lot of training to get through and so was very limited in the tasks I could take on at the beginning of my placement. However I now feel that I have a lot of resposibility. I take on large jobs that require me to coordinate other employees and tasks that were given to my supervisor that she trusts me to complete quickly but also to a high standard. As previously mentioned, I am treated like every other employee rather than just an intern.
My degree is chemistry and my dream job i to work in the research and development of medicines. This placement has confirmed that I want a role within the pharmaceutical industry, however my position at MSD isn't really linked to my degree course. My ability to think technically and solve problems has improved and I think this will benefit me in terms of the maths aspect of my course and the problem solving that will be involved in my research project/dissertation in my final year. As well as skills directly linked to my degree course, I have improved my skills in other areas that I also think will help me at university, Firstly, I have become very good at prioritising tasks based on both deadline and company needs. I think this will help me prioritise my assignments and revision etc. at uni to help me organise my time in the best way. My communication and presentation skills have also improved as I have had to participate and host meetings. This will be very advantageous when it comes to my dissertation presentations. Finally, although I was already organised before starting placement, I have had to become even more organised as I often receive large numbers of emails every day and have to organise all my tasks to make sure I meet all the criteria.
I love the atmosphere in my office! I am always welcomed by smiling faces and good mornings every day. We also often have office parties for example for someone’s birthday or if someone is changing roles and it’s nice to sit with everyone over lunch and have nice conversations and a good laugh. There are always jokes being cracked in the office. Despite the light-hearted feel in the office, we also have quality hours where everyone gets their head down and focuses on their work without distracting each other. I would describe it as a "work-hard play-hard" atmosphere. I'd be very happy if in the future I secured a job and the office atmosphere was like it is at MSD
On the MSD Cramlington side of things, the placement has been very organised. From my induction week, to organised training days, my training and integration into the company has felt seamless. Even before starting, the communication between myself and my manager was very organised and fast. However, all MSD UK Interns are mainly organised by one of the MSD sites down south. The sites down south are fairly close together and so interns can easily travel between sites. Because of this I feel like as an intern at the Cramlington site, I have missed out on some visits and presentations since I can't travel easily to the host site. Similarly, we often receive communications addressed to all UK interns and at the bottom of the email it would say "not including Cramlington interns". Although I don't think this is necessarily bad organisation, I think the communications could be refined so that Cramlington interns don't receive unnecessary communication, but more importantly it would be good if Cramlington interns could receive the same opportunities as the interns at the other UK sites.
I believe MSD have invested a lot of time into my personal develpment, particularly my supervisor and manager. On top of the standard training that everyone receives upon joining MSD, my supervisor has also tried to get me involved with all of her projects so I can leave placement with a broad knowledge of how the site works. I have even been able to get some time in the labs as I expressed an interest of finding more out about them. I have been enrolled in multiple additional training courses to increase the amount of work I am able to help with and even if it has just been reviewing work my manager/supervisor has produced, they have tried to introduce me to all of the possible types of work that they would be involved in.
Above 25 days holiday
Working from home
There are definitely future prospects within the company. For example the intern I took over from is returning to a full time role after she completes her university course. However, she had to undergo an interview process to get the job rather than being offered one straight from her internship. my team have often said that they would love to have me back after university however the role I am currently in is not one I see myself in after university. As I have previously mentioned, my degree course is in Chemistry and so if I was to return to the company I would see myself working in the research and development side of the company rather than the packaging side as I believe I am more suited to lab based work rather than office based work. I have felt so looked after on my placement and this in addition to the employee perks such as bonuses makes a job with MSD in the future very appealing!
I have been fortunate in that I have got on very well with my fellow placement students at MSD Cramlington. We have a break together every morning at work to have a catch up, however have not socialised outside of work apart from at my birthday party. As well as my birthday party we also all attended the site bbq where we socialised amoungst ourselves and our colleagues. Other than these two events there hasn't been much of a social scene, but I have no doubt we'll get together at least once before the end of our placements.
I only looked for placements near my family home as I did not want to move away. I live close to the city centre of Newcastle which is about 20-25 minutes drive from the MSD site in Cramlington. I still with my parents and so can't really comment on the cost of living as I have been fortunate not to have to pay for this. There is such a variety of places to socialise around site and so no matter the budget, there will be somewhere to go. There are always deals on in the pubs, bars and restaurants, I particularly enjoy restaurant week which we have twice a year where you can eat at the most expensive restaurants for the price of a nandos! If you came to work at MSD Cramlington, being so close to Newcastle city centre, you would be spoilt for choice for places to socialise without it having to cost you an arm and a leg.
MSD is in Cramlington, about a 25 minutes away from Newcastle's city centre. As most people will know Newcastle is famous for geordie shore and if you are familiar with this tv show you will know that the nightlife in Newcastle is up there with the best in the UK. I am 21 and so have 3 years "experience" of the night life in Newcastle and I am still not bored of it. There are endless amounts of pubs, bars, clubs and restaurants all next door to each other so there are lots of choices! The nightlife is often a swaying factor when it comes to students picking between their universities and I don't think anyone who has chosen to study in Newcastle has ever regretted their choice simply down to the nightlife.
There wasn't much opportunity to get involved in activities outside of work. One thing we were able to get involved in is the STEM Ambassador program where every Tuesday we would help out at a science club at various local schools and teach them how to do fun science experiments! I really enjoyed this as having a background in Chemistry, I felt really able to help the children understand the experiments and put my knowledge to good use. I think I will continue to be a stem ambassador after placement as it is very rewarding to use my skills to benefit the community. Had corona virus not struck, we would have also had the opportunity to visit the other MSD UK sites and so I feel slightly deflated as I would have loved that experience but I'm sure that could be arranged in the future if I wanted.
Placement Year (10 Months+)
17th June 2020