A young brunette woman smiling against a backdrop of a mural of multicoloured hand imprints.
Cathy McDonough. Image: Amgen

How a graduate programme can kick-start your career

21 May 2019

Cathy McDonough discusses how entering the graduate programme at Amgen helped her career.

When you leave education and wade into the working world, you will understandably be daunted by the prospect of what is yet to come. A bad start can really shake you to your core. In turn, a good start can make all the difference and set you on an amazing career trajectory.

Cathy McDonough, a process development associate at Amgen, was lucky enough to get the latter, and praised how the people at the company fostered a positive learning environment, aiding her development. We caught up with her and found out more about what her career journey thus far has looked like and how her role has transformed.

What did you study in college?

Chemical sciences with medicinal chemistry at DIT.

With this programme, are you now working in your desired industry?


What drew you to Amgen when you were seeking work as a graduate?

I was an intern for eight months at Amgen and I had a great experience. The people at Amgen were so enthusiastic about giving me exposure to as many aspects of the company they could in the short space of time I was here. It created a safe and relaxed environment where it was easy to learn.

What expectations did you have before you began the programme?

I had high expectations for the programme knowing what the intern programme was like. I knew Amgen would be organised and eager to make the programme as beneficial to the graduates and the company as possible.

What duties and responsibilities were you given initially?

Initially, I was given general duties and responsibilities in the lab I was working in. I never felt different to the other people working in the lab who were not graduates. I was given the same training as other employees, so I knew the expectation for me was to complete my work to the same standard as everyone else.

Did the scope of your work change as the programme progressed?

As I progressed through the programme and gained more experience, I felt my responsibilities increased and the scope of my work broadened.

Can you describe a typical day in your role?

A typical day in my current role involves forensically analysing samples and writing scientific reports for customers within the company. Based on priorities, I am assigned a job and I am therefore the forensic owner for that job. I complete the analysis and I am the point of contact of that investigation.

How do your responsibilities compare to more experienced employees’?

With regards to the day-to-day running of the lab, my responsibilities are the same as the other employees and they have always made me feel that way. The more experienced employees have additional responsibilities with projects outside of the day-to-day workings of the lab and I work with them on these projects when I am needed.

Do you feel more prepared for working life after completing this programme?

I feel a lot more prepared for the working world after completing this programme; it has been a very positive first step in my career. The skills I have learned and the contacts I have made will stand to me for the rest of my career.

Why should someone apply to the graduate programme at Amgen?

Amgen provides you with real working experience and a platform to learn and develop. You are fully integrated as a member of staff in a busy team and you get the added opportunity of working and learning from other graduates in different departments.

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