March 19, 2014, by Yvonne Teoh
Life of an Intern: Cerca Insights, Penang
Last summer, two of our undergraduate students had the opportunity to intern at Cerca Insights, Penang, a Contract Research Organization (CRO) which specialized in behavioral pharmacology. Here are the summaries of their internship experiences:
Marine Alneel (Year 3 Student in BSc (Hons) Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience):
The opportunity of interning at Cerca Insights definitely was more fun, informing, eventful and more demanding than I expected it to be. Although as a 3rd year Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience student I have already become familiar with animal behaviour experiments, yet no matter how much you read about a topic it is never the same as experiencing it on the field. Working at Cerca required a lot of discipline especially when it comes to time because that’s very crucial regarding drug testing. It also required a lot of hard work and physical effort. This internship gave me the opportunity to learn more about research in the market rather than in academia and it introduced me to the field of psychopharmacology and the importance of psychology to the field of medicine.
Rehan Rehman (Year 3 Student in BSc (Hons.) Psychology & Cognitive Neuroscience):
Working at Cerca Insights was a great learning experience. At Cerca, we were not helping scientists; we WERE scientists ourselves. Although closely monitored and trained, we were expected to be independent and meet the daily objectives and requirements of the research team. This helped us to directly implement our classroom knowledge about behavioural neuroscience and conduct state of the art industrial research. The lectures taught thus made clear sense to us as we were carrying out the very experiments we had studied about in class.
The internship provided an excellent opportunity to learn about the preciseness required in scientific research and the delicate nature of handling laboratory animals. In addition, we learnt about quality control and management in drug discovery, the importance of following S.O.Ps. when carrying out research with animals and animal husbandry and welfare procedures. The staff at Cerca was welcoming and was always willing to offer help when required. I would recommend students to do this internship in order to gain real-life experience about how research is carried out in an industrial setting and to experience the realities of work-related life in general.