Photograph of a young professional man in casual clothes against a beige backdrop.
Jack Clohessy. Image: MSD

Learn how this pharma intern got the chance to put his skills to the test

3 Oct 2019

Chemical engineering student Jack Clohessy discusses what he learned during his internship at MSD Ballydine.

Curious about what to expect in an internship with a global pharmaceutical company? Jack Clohessy told us about his time working as an intern at MSD Ballydine.

A student of chemical and biochemical engineering in University of Limerick, Clohessy emphasised the value of getting practical experience beyond the confines of the lecture theatre.

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

Yes I am. I’ve always wanted to work in the pharmaceutical industry and I was delighted to get the opportunity to complete my internship in MSD Ballydine.

What drew you to MSD when you were seeking work as an intern?

I was hoping to complete my internship in a pharmaceutical company. When you think pharma, MSD comes to mind immediately, so I was delighted when I had the opportunity to interview for an intern position at the company.

I knew I would gain a lot of valuable experience and, over the last eight months, I have learned so much more than I could have anticipated.

What expectations did you have before you began the programme?

I was hoping that I would be able to apply what I had learned in college while gaining beneficial experience in the sector in practical terms.

I was also looking forward to seeing how unit operations work on a much larger scale in the field rather than the small scale we see in college, as well as being given the opportunity to put my skills to the test.

What duties and responsibilities were you given initially?

Initially when I began my internship, I was assigned one main project to work on. The induction I received was very comprehensive and I was provided with the support and mentorship required as I settled into my new role.

‘Safety first, quality always’ is our mantra in MSD and ensuring this was met has been key to delivering on my duties. Therefore, I focused on ensuring the necessary checks and balances were in place and documentation was complete, and I assisted with the various safety preparations and equipment inspections.

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

Yes, I began to take on more responsibilities as I became more comfortable in my role. I was given more diverse projects and even got the opportunity to lead on various manufacturing processes under supervision from the team.

I also had the chance to gain operations experience through shift work. Operations is quite different because I was faced with the day-to-day problems that had to be overcome rather than the longer-term issues I was used to. I also gained experience in lab studies, where I learned a wide variety of laboratory techniques such as distillations and liquid extraction.

Can you describe a typical day in your role?

I could be in the lab, involved in safety operations, doing inspections or completing regulatory and compliance documentation. It’s hard to describe a typical day because they vary so much, but this variation is great as it keeps the work very interesting.

How do your responsibilities compare to more experienced employees?

At the beginning, my responsibilities were naturally limited as I was given time to familiarise myself with the various processes on site. But as time went on, I began taking on more and more responsibility and my confidence grew.

By the time I had completed my eight-month internship, the level of responsibility I had taken on was similar to that of a graduate working here for the same length of time. I was consistently encouraged and challenged in the role, but I was always supported and never felt out of my depth.

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

Yes definitely, I have learned a massive amount in working at MSD Ballydine. It’s one thing learning about processes in a classroom setting but nothing can take away from the practical experience obtained out in the field.

My time at MSD has been invaluable and it has given me a strong grounding as I embark on my future career.

Why should someone apply to the Intern programme at MSD?

MSD is a great place to complete an internship as an engineer. As one of the largest global pharmaceutical companies, it’s a leader in this field and, as someone starting out on their future career, it’s a great opportunity to gain the insight and experience from such a world-class team.

Its intern programme is well-structured and offers interns great exposure to different lines of work within the company.

But most importantly, at MSD, all interns are really valued. Every member of the company really invested their time in me and I’m so grateful to have had this experience.

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