Student placements in their own words: Claire at Roche

Claire Springett, 3rd year BSc Chemistry with Biomedicine with a Year in Industry student has been working Medical Data and Information Solutions department at Roche for her placement year. Claire tells us about her inspiring story.

Row of microscopes
Photo by Ousa Chea on Unsplash

Hi, I’m Claire and I am currently working at Roche for my placement year. Roche is a Swiss Pharmaceutical and Diagnostics company with a UK based in Welwyn Garden City, its headquarters in Basel and other locations across the world. It was also voted the 4th best company to work for by the Sunday Times Best Big Companies. Roche focuses on disease areas such as cancer, viral infections, disorders of the metabolic and central nervous systems, and inflammatory diseases.


What is your role like?

Within Roche, I work in Biometrics – which establishes the quantitative evidence to describe the benefit and risk of a trial molecule to patients. Biometrics is a huge function and I work in a department called Medical Data and Information Solutions, created to support the departments working directly with molecules in new systems, promoting data sharing internally and externally, and controlling our standards and governance. We are a diverse team, mostly with programming backgrounds (although as a chemistry student I did not come here with these skills) and had the opportunity to learn programming languages on the job. Using SAS I analysed clinical trial data sets, with Python I created functions to format blocks of metadata information into a dictionary, and in R I built dynamic interactive R shiny apps displaying information utilised by all of biometrics.


How did you find your placement experience?

The Roche environment is incredibly welcoming and friendly, with plenty of people from a range of backgrounds working here, all focused on patient care. There are many opportunities to interact through our sports and social activities, which I have done as a part of the tennis club, football team, and helping out with charity events.

Biometrics at Roche provides a lot of flexibility with working hours, very rarely do you see people doing the standard 9-5. From the start of 2020 we have been trialling a new initiative – ‘How We Roll’, giving even more flexibility to our working day- Not to mention our amazing staff benefits, including gift vouchers and even days away! Also, our off-site F2F meetings are a great way to interact and get to know the team in a more chilled environment- we had week trip away to Basel planned for this year.


What would you say are the key things you’ve learnt on your placement?

The biggest lessons I have learnt… One has got to be my new-found programming skills, which has taught me that you’re never too late to learn a new language! I always found coding a new world and thought I could never pick it up, but with practice, it is very possible to learn and applicable to many careers- I look forward to using this in the final year of my studies. I’ve also gained presentation skills. In a big global company with people working across the world, many video calls take place and new information needs to be presented, which I found very daunting at first. During my time in MDIS, I have been given the opportunity to record a presentation on TransCelerate for people across the world in Roche to watch and learn from.

What advice would you give to other students considering a placement?

I think students should definitely think about applying for a year in industry, as you learn invaluable lessons from a placement- such as working to deadlines and with people across the world. Roche Biometrics is a great choice for anyone with a science or maths background as they will help enhance your analytical skills, give you an insight into what working for a big pharma company is like and ultimately give an edge over students who didn’t do a placement year!