My placement year at Roche

By Claire, a Chemistry student at King's College London

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 base in Welwyn Garden City, its headquarters in Basel and further sites in San Francisco, Mississauga and other locations around the world. In February, Roche was voted the 4th best company to work for by the Sunday Times Best Big Companies. Specifically, Roche focuses on disease areas such as cancer, viral infections, disorders of the metabolic and central nervous systems, and inflammatory diseases.

My job at Roche

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 on the job languages such as SAS, Python and R. 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.

I really enjoy playing tennis with my work colleagues

Employee benefits – flexible hours and sports!

The Roche environment is incredibly welcoming and friendly, with employees coming from a range of backgrounds, all focused on patient care. It’s not all about work – there are many opportunities to interact through our sports and social activities. I’m part of the tennis club, football team, and I have been 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! The gist is, as long as we get the work done and are transparent with our time, we can work whenever we want! Some people still choose to go in at 8-4, or 10-6 as was allowed before, but many others like myself prefer to work for 9 hours Monday to Thursday and maybe only 4 hours on Friday to give ourselves a long weekend! This is one of the reasons why our employees are very satisfied and motivated to work. Not to mention our amazing non-monetary benefits, including points for doing extra work, which accumulated can buy you gift vouchers and even days away!

Also off-site F2F meetings are a great way to interact and get to know the team in a more chilled environment, I was very much looking forward to my week trip away in Basel until a certain virus forced it to be cancelled…c’est la vie!

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 never thought I would understand coding, but with practice it is very possible to learn and is applicable to many careers. I’m looking forward to using this in my final year of studies.

Another skill I have learnt is how to give presentations. In a big company with people working all over the world, many video calls take place and new information needs to be presented, which I found very daunting at first.  However in my time in Medical Data and Information Solutions department, I’ve been given the opportunity to record a presentation on TransCelerate for people across the world in Roche to watch and learn from.

Should you do a Year in Industry?

I think Chemistry students starting their second year at King’s should definitely think about applying for a Year in Industry, as you learn invaluable lessons from having a job with deadlines and working with people all over the world. Roche Biometrics is a great choice for anyone with a science or mathematics background as they will help enhance your analytical skills, give you an insight into what working for a big pharmaceutical company is like. When you graduate, you’ll have all the skills to be able to find your dream job in industry.

Read more…

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