I had an amazing time at MSD!! Everyone is lovely and there is a real sense of community within the company. I really enjoyed being in the laboratory and learning new techniques. I also got the opportunity to present which at first is daunting but I knew I needed practice.
The team I was working in (as well as the other teams I know of) were very supportive and we had weekly meetings to re-group and plan what to do. I felt as if I could ask a question at any point, whether in the lab with someone, in the office or in a meeting.
It was very hands on at first and then this slowly decreased as time went on. This was great because a lot of time was devoted to you to settle into your new environment, but then you got the opportunity to be more independent as time went on. Particularly the support with lab techniques was well done.
It varied a lot day to day, sometimes you were reading papers to kill a bit of time. Usually there was a reasonable amount of lab work to do, along with meetings and office tasks. This was usually analysis before starting the next experiment so essentially work came in waves. Presentations took a lot of preparation and practice so you would work a lot towards these.
You gained more independence as time went on. Most of the placement you were left to do your own lab work which in itself requires a lot of responsibility. Also, sometimes you were asked to do favours for other people which needs a certain level of responsibility. However, most of the work you did only had an immediate effect on your project, instead of serious ramifications for other people.
Presentation skills should be very helpful in final year as well as independent learning. The laboratory work is useful in terms of how to approach experiments and gaining confidence. However the skills are not that transferable due to difference in equipment and protocol in academia. Literature reviews, reading papers, writing reports and making posters will be very useful in final year.
The general atmosphere was concentrated and quiet but everyone was quite approachable. If you had any questions, it was easy enough and acceptable to discuss them in the office. There was also some chatter in the morning getting coffee or near lunchtime. However, most of the time it was fairly silent, good for concentrating but chatter felt disruptive.
Weekly meetings took place to re-group, evaluate progress and determine next steps. Therefore feedback and deadlines were very organised. However, the lab was operational was fine tuning was needed as the facility was fairly new for MSD. Site visits were relatively well organised but got can't comment on the actual day as they were cancelled due to COVID-19.
This was very hands on. Teaching you how to do laboratory experiments was very detailed and very involved. Feedback on presentations and pieces of work such as literature reviews was well done and extensive. However, over the course of the placement you were given more control over what you did, which was also a form of personal training.
Above 25 days holiday
Not much in the immediate future as there are no graduate programmes or PhD sponsorships for lab placements. However, if you want to finish a PhD and go into a post-doc with MSD that is available. The team generally seem keen to stay in contact so future opportunities may crop up.
The immediate office I worked in did a lot of social events. This involved meals out, trips to the pub, some other miscellaneous things outside of work hours. Other activities were also arranged in work such as christmas wreath workshops or pot lucks. The other London placements students organised a lot of socials but you need to make the initial effort to get on the emails.
It's London, so it really depends on where you live but fairly pricey. Drinking is especially costly but market stalls or restaurants can offer good food on the cheap. Also one thing to consider is socialising may require travel on the tube etc so this is something to consider if you don't have a travel pass.
It's London so lots.
Placement Year (10 Months+)
23rd June 2020