I enjoyed my placement at MSD a lot because although I was lacking in knowledge when it came to the pharmaceutical industry and clinical trial, having a really good support system was essential. I was able to learn about MSD's robust process and how everyone really does work as a team to achieve their slogan which is 'Inventing for Life'. Being able to talk to senior members and listen to their experiences was also very good.
I felt they cared a lot about what the student intern cohort thought. MSD cares a lot about Ways of Working and how to improve that so they love to hear input, and don't think of it as bad criticism rather as constructive criticism. At forums for my position, they consistently ask what everyone's opinion. At department meetings, very senior employees would come and ask us what they think could improve. Especially with the current remote situation by COVID-19, they cared a lot about us.
The support and guidance I had was very important. With my position, I had 2 managers and 2 mentors to help me learn more about my role. One of the manager's had catch ups with the rest of the placement students from my deparment every week. We also had separate manager's who we had catch ups fortnightly. It was helpful in identifying what was going on to report to them. With COVID-19, we had more catch up's to check up on us.
At the start of my placement, there was not a lot of work because there is a lot of training to do. It takes a couple months to start having busy days. Towards the end of the new year the workload builds up. The manager's do ask you to tell them if the workload is too little or too much. When the COVID-19 lockdown hit, the workload had decreased but after speaking with my manager's they assigned me more work.
Due to previous years and an upcoming inspection, they were weary of how much responsibility they could give. Although we were in charge of different topics, the ultimate responsibility was given to our mentors. We were given different projects where we had full responsibility but with our day to day role, some important tasks had to be checked by our mentor, which was fine by all the placement students in my department. This was good to know because I learnt awareness as a skill.
The skills I learnt at my placement have been very important to both my professional and personal life. Working at a global company, I got to learn about how some clinical trials are run in different countries. I got to understand the true process of teamwork and everyone assisting. One skill I used to think was a weakness but is actually important in developing is 'asking for help'. At university you think you can only depend on friends for essay help or revision but at a workplace, there is no harm in asking your colleague on clarifications regarding a Standard Operating Procedure or difficulty in some work. This is something I really hope to use when I go back to university.
The office had a warm family atmosphere. We had bake off competitions where colleagues used to come in every week with a new cake. Of course, with how close my company was based in the city, multiple meetings were held and we had to act in a proper manner as we are representatives. Generally, there is a nice feeling in the office and you do feel that everyone cares for people there and there is a good atmosphere.
The work placement was well organised with having training in one position and working in that position before more training in another role. The second role included field visits all over the UK and Ireland, which meant that organisation was key. Having Classroom Trainings and other department trainings, so that everyone as up to date was very important. HR was also involved in our placement by giving other opportunities. Overall, it was very organised and well thought out.
The company does give a paid salary as well as reimbursing the field visits. This meant that we got to fund more experience visits. There were also multiple opportunities to develop presentation skills, which I do understand is a skill a lot of students are scared about developing. We also had the opportunity to speak to senior staff and learn about the path they got to their position. I got to learn about the 9box matrix management.
Above 25 days holiday
Working from home
Multiple employees I am close to, did a placement year just like me and networked to other managers to get a job back at the company. They then climb the ladder and get higher paid jobs. Networking is really important when joining any company, in order to get the best experience and think about other opportunities you may want to try. There are also graduate jobs available for other roles, which encourage the placement students to come back.
The placement students were based all over the UK (London, Hertfordshire, Cramlington, Milton Keynes). The only days we were together was an induction but in the specific areas, the placement students had a good social scene. Everyone was also respectful of other individual's needs or reasons was to why they couldn't attend events. There were multiple events for different seasons and although they were cut short due to COVID-19, I do believe everyone had a good time.
London is where I worked and in general it is very expensive. Rent and utilities could be up £1000 a month and with income tax there were times placement students had to save money. With social events as well, money is very important. Placement students can get a student oyster card for travel but irregardless it is still expensive. Rent can be lowered as students don't have to pay council tax. Overall, it is very expensive.
I'm an individual who didn't go to multiple nightlife events due to religious reasons but for others who want to know, the office I worked in was in King's Cross so there was a lot of different things to do. I got to join other different restaurants that were highly recommended. During the summer, they do hold multiple outdoor events that were lovely to join and see. Working in London, there is a lot to do.
Within my department, each placement student had a separate task they were responsible for outside the day to day work. HR had an early talent forum where placement students got to tour the different places. Our year was cut short due to COVID-19 but we had remote gatherings to talk about improving different skills and presenting on different topics. Some opportunities you do have to ask, but there is no harm in asking! Everyone is friendly
Placement Year (10 Months+)
25th June 2020