A Day in the Life of a Scientific Intern

Sonia Shaw

Analyst in our Market Access Division following her role as a Scientific Intern in 2018

What did you do before joining Costello Medical?

I have always had a strong interest in the pharmaceutical industry! This first led me to complete a BSc in Biomedical Sciences with a specialisation year in Pharmacology at Imperial College London, followed by a MSc in Drug Discovery Skills at King’s College London. My Masters included a 6-month placement at Eli Lilly, which was a great opportunity to learn more about the pharmaceutical industry hands-on.

Certificate

Before I joined Costello Medical as a Scientific Intern, I had just completed my PhD in Medical Sciences at the University of Cambridge, where I have also completed an MRes in Medical Research as part of my PhD programme. After this, I found that I wanted to transition into a career that utilised my scientific skills outside of the lab setting and world of academia. This was when I found the medical communications sector and I quickly felt that this was the perfect fit for me!

Costello Medical’s Scientific Internship Programme, which I completed in 2018, was the ideal opportunity to learn more about this new sector by gaining hands-on, client-facing experience.

Disease
Research

What did you like best about your previous role as Scientific Intern?

During my time as a Scientific Intern, I was able to experience a wide range of project types which saw me getting involved in developing market access value materials, an HTA assessment, and writing a clinical systematic literature review. This variety in my workload was really eye-opening for me and allowed me to explore different projects types, work with a variety of teams and assess where my particular skills could fit in well within a company like Costello Medical.

Team

Our fortnightly global company catch-ups were, and continue to be, a great way for me to find out more about the ongoing projects across the company and all of our service offerings, as well as any internal initiatives that I could take part in. Even as a Scientific Intern, we are encouraged to explore different project types, disease areas and service offerings. This cross-divisional way of working is something I have always loved about my role as it keeps every day different and exciting!

My favourite part was that it was clear that I was contributing to projects in a meaningful way, helping my project teams to deliver our usual standard of high-quality work. I could see the tangible results and knew my hard work was being appreciated by, not only my colleagues, but our clients as well.

During my internship, I found that everyone I met at Costello Medical was incredibly welcoming and helpful, which was certainly a big part of my decision to apply for the permanent position.

How would you describe a typical day in the life of a Scientific Intern at Costello Medical?

  • I arrive at the office and, after catching up with some colleagues I meet on the way to my desk, I log on to my computer and start checking through my emails for any new tasks for the day. I quickly message a colleague asking for more information about a project we are working on together. My project teams have varied from four to eight members, so I have been sure to communicate with them and make sure I was aware of any critical information or deadlines.

  • I put the finishing touches to a PowerPoint presentation I have been working on which will provide an introduction to a new treatment our client is taking to market. After giving it a final proofread, I submit it to my project manager for approval. Project managers are always available to answer any questions or assist with prioritisation.

  • I turn my attention to a new project which I have been assigned to this week. It is the first time I’ve worked on a project in this particular disease area, which is really exciting! I spend the rest of the morning sifting through abstracts and full texts to identify relevant publications that will help to form part of a systematic literature review. When I first started, I found it quite daunting to see colleagues switching focus between projects throughout the day or even during a conversation. Now, as I near the end of my internship, I find it much easier to work on three different projects in different disease areas, for different clients, at the same time.

  • During my lunch break I catch up with the rest of colleagues where we spend most of the hour discussing last night’s TV.

  • Not long after my lunch break, it is time to join an online call with one of our clients where they provide us with a brief for a new project we are taking on. As an Intern, it is fantastic to take part in these calls and I am encouraged to get to know our client and ask any questions I may have. This opportunity to get first-hand experience with client communication is something I have really valued during my internship – not many companies provide this level of responsibility to their interns! I have been asked to record the meeting’s minutes to share them to the wider project team so we can then come together internally discuss our next steps.

  • During the rest of the afternoon, I take some time to research and compile information on the disease area and treatment approach that we will be focussing on for the upcoming project we just kicked off with our client. This is used to not only build up my own understanding of the background and current practice, but also to identify unmet needs that our client is hoping to tackle in this new project. Eventually, this research will be used to complete a value dossier for our client.

  • My team have recently completed a big project and the client sent us their glowing feedback which we were all thrilled with! To celebrate, we have decided to share afternoon tea and cake together in the communal kitchen to celebrate the success. The support you receive within a project team is so important and celebrating great results helps to make you feel really valued and appreciated.

  • As the end of the day approaches, I make sure everything on my to-do list has been completed and I have responded to all the urgent emails in my inbox. I like to stay organised and on top of my project tasks and I compile tomorrow’s to-do list before heading out for dinner with some colleagues.

What was it like applying for, and transitioning to, the permanent Analyst role?

I took a six-month break in between finishing my internship and starting the Analyst role and completed most of my application during that break; however, you can apply while still completing the internship and transition straight into the role with no break in between if successful.

Forum

The application process involved submitting a CV and cover letter explaining why I wanted to apply for the Analyst role and why I felt I was suited to it. I then completed a written assessment at home and, finally, an interview where I had to deliver a 10-minute presentation. My line manager and the recruitment team were very helpful in explaining the process and answering any questions I had.

I found the transition into the Analyst role to be a smooth one. The Scientific Internship exposes you to similar work that you’ll be doing as a permanent employee and, over time, I have gained more responsibilities on my projects, which I have greatly enjoyed. This has included an increasing amount of direct client contact and increased responsibility in finalising any deliverables.

Promotion