A young brunette woman wearing a black frilled blouse looking at camera. An MSD logo can be seen in the background.
Michelle Cleary. Image: MSD

Don’t know what engineering role you want? Try them all, says MSD

27 Sep 2018

There are so many different types of roles available to engineers. While having options is a good thing, sometimes having so many choices can be difficult. Luckily, the flexible graduate programme at MSD circumvents this in a creative way.

Engineering is an incredibly broad discipline. At its core, engineering students are taught to use various strands of maths and sciences to solve problems.

It’s an excellent transferable skill to have, hence why engineers are constantly in demand. Yet the scope of the course presents one small problem: how do you figure out what kind of engineering role you want?

There are so many different kinds of engineering positions available for prospective graduates that it can be a bit dizzying. That’s why the solution MSD cooked up is so simple yet so effective: let graduates try out different roles.

It’s this flexibility that attracted Michelle Cleary, a graduate with MSD in Ballydine, Co Tipperary, to the company. Moving freely between different engineering roles provided Cleary with both invaluable skills and insight into where her interests lay. We caught up with Cleary about her experience with the MSD graduate programme.

What did you study in college?

I studied chemical and biochemical engineering at the University of Limerick.

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

Definitely! I gained invaluable experience completing the MSD graduate programme. It helped point me in the direction of an area that I was interested in further building my knowledge and skills in.

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

Throughout the four years of college, MSD employees visited us to deliver talks about their careers and the company’s work environment. The flexible structure of the graduate programme was a key factor in my decision to work with MSD. The team who advised on the programme explained how I could try different engineering roles as well as learn of the various roles a chemical engineer could have on an MSD site. This flexibility had a strong influence on my decision to apply for the graduate programme.

What expectations did you have before you began the programme?

My initial expectation before starting the programme was that there would be a set pathway. However, after the first rotation of departmental roles, I was encouraged to highlight the departments and projects I wanted to participate in. MSD’s graduate programme gave me the opportunity to build my own development plan.

What duties and responsibilities were you given initially?

In my first few months in MSD Ballydine in Tipperary, I spent most of my time on the production floor working alongside operations and quality to understand the various formulation modules and build an in-depth knowledge of the processes and equipment.

By watching and asking questions, I enhanced my knowledge and was prepared to take on numerous different assignments, such as batch record writing and equipment qualification. I also participated in problem-solving discussions.

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

Naturally, as I rotated between the different departments, my scope of work changed. Within the space of a few months, I went from observing production tasks to innovating solutions for learner systems in the processes.

Can you describe a typical day in your role?

After completing three rotations on site, I transitioned into my current role as API shift engineer. I am a technical resource for my assigned shift, supporting API production, troubleshooting, executing performance analysis and implementing process improvements. There is no typical day or night but that’s what drew me to the role at MSD Ballydine; I am always learning something new on every shift I complete.

How do your responsibilities compare to more experienced employees’?

It’s all about teamwork and collaboration in MSD. Within the team, you are assigned your own tasks and projects, and the responsibility is on you to deliver with the guidance and support of the more experienced engineers.

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

Yes. While I have built great technical knowledge from the programme, I have also developed crucial soft skills that are essential to working in a large multinational organisation. The programme has also given me an insight into the various roles on site, and opportunities I can pursue in the company.

Why should someone apply to the graduate programme at MSD?

In your final year of college, you may have an idea of the type of job or the sector you would like to work in, but MSD’s graduate programme offers you a great opportunity to explore different engineering roles in a high-performance, world-class organisation. It gives you the scope and opportunity to participate in projects where your work is helping patients across the world.

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