What’s important when looking for a graduate programme?
Sean Finn. Image: Amgen

What’s important when looking for a graduate programme?

6 Aug 2019276 Views

Graduate programmes are a really important first step in establishing your career. It’s vital that you pick the right one for you.

Imagine the scene: you’re coming towards the end of your graduate studies and preparing to move into a programme working in a real-life organisation. Your lectures may have prepared you well, but the real test only comes when you’re out in the world and finally get the opportunity to apply your skills.

Therefore, where you choose to do your graduate programme is very important, and you will likely want to ensure you pick the right place. So what should you consider?

We spoke to Sean Finn, a graduate with Amgen, to hear about the factors that contributed to his decision and what elements he thinks are most important when picking a company to begin your career with.

What did you study in college?

Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) in mechatronic engineering.

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

Yes, this programme directly facilitated me working within the engineering world, specifically the mechatronics nature of control systems, process control, instrumentation and automation engineering.

I am currently in the role of information systems automation (IS-automation) operations.

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

Searching for work as a graduate is a very challenging task and there are several categories that as a graduate you should be acutely aware of such as industry growth, career development, ethics and the quality of a company.

I knew I wanted to enter the pharmaceutical environment and upon further investigation saw that biopharmaceuticals had the most promising outlook for the industry. Directly tied with biopharmaceuticals was, of course, Amgen.

“Amgen holds its graduates to just as high a standard as its senior employees”
– SEAN FINN

Amgen is a company that is both well-known and well-respected in the pharma world, which was the initial appealing factor. When I dug a bit deeper into the company, one of Amgen’s primary missions is to serve the patients. This, along with values such as remaining ethical and pledging to be science-based, all contributed to me seeking a graduate placement in the company

What expectations did you have before you began the programme?

I only had brief experience in the pharmaceutical world before starting work at Amgen, so while my expectations were a bit blurry of the overall industry, I was quite aware of what I was going to be doing within Amgen. Certainly for the opening few months at least.

I knew that from the core values of the company I could expect a fast-paced environment that was determined to make a difference for its patients, staff and the stockholders. The hiring process was very intuitive to the programme. Though it had multiple interview stages, it was a very open process. My questions were addressed just as much as Amgen’s were. This led to a situation where I knew exactly what the programme would entail.

So, because of this I had very specific expectations prior to me starting with the company. I knew they would facilitate and provide training on technical skills as well as mentorship surrounding soft skills such as communication, teamwork and managing work/life balance.

What duties and responsibilities were you given initially?

There were four graduates who started on the same day. Starting off as new hires, the first responsibility was to get trained up on the business workings, procedures, technical specifications and more as quickly as possible.

After this we were integrated directly into the team that we were placed in. My team already had projects lined up for me to start working on. In terms of responsibilities, my duties ranged from assisting the senior engineers on projects to testing and compliance management.

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

The scope of my work has grown from day one. Since starting, I have aided and executed many of my own projects on the process control system. We’re still going through the graduate programme so I anticipate even more scope for growth, development and progression.

Can you describe a typical day in your role?

Describing a typical day would be quite hard in my role as there is massive variance. Working as a site support team (IS-automation operations) we are constantly pivoting to the needs of the site and troubleshooting problems as they occur. Then in the background we have our ongoing projects focused on moving the site forward.

So, daily I may be working with quality to ensure compliance, testing software to improve the process, implementing a change to the systems, or executing and managing documentation.

How do your responsibilities compare to more experienced employees’?

The way this graduate programme is constructed you integrate directly with the team, which means you are just as responsible as they are for the work. The idea of this programme is that you can become a contributing team member as quickly as possible.

Ensuring graduates take on these same responsibilities as other staff enables this to happen very effectively. The more experienced employees will be mindful of my experience level and will step in as needed.

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

The graduate programme hasn’t ended as of this moment but, at this stage, I would say it definitely has prepared me for working life.

Why should someone apply to the graduate programme at Amgen?

There are multiple reasons to apply for this graduate role. The top three for me would be the training the company is willing to provide along with the mentorship programme. I also enjoy the rotational aspect that allows graduates to rotate and gain experience in other departments.

What clinched it for me, and should be an aspect all graduates look for, is Amgen’s expectations of you. Amgen holds its graduates to just as high a standard as its senior employees. It starts you off as they want you to continue, which lends itself to a strong learning environment where you get hands-on experience, which is vital for any graduate starting out.

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