June 11, 2019, by Noor Syuhada

Internship Helps Me Deciding My Career Path

By, Amelia Andrew Nazareth (Bsc (Hons) Pharmaceutical and Health Sciences).

After I completed my high school education, I did my pre-university at Sunway College, completing the Monash University Foundation Year program. After which I did my diploma in Pharmaceutical Sciences at Cardiff University, and finally enrolled at the University of Nottingham Malaysia majoring in BSc Pharmaceutical & Health Sciences, where I graduated with a First Class Honours Degree.

I currently work for Novartis, a Swiss multinational pharmaceutical company, specializing in multiple therapy areas including cardio-metabolic, respiratory, oncology, dermatology, ophthalmology and many more. I am a Senior Product Specialist in the Sales division of Novartis, responsible for promoting our products to healthcare professionals to meet sales goals in my assigned territory.

Application at Novartis

Novartis came to Nottingham when I was in my 2nd year of my degree and gave a brief explanation about the company and the jobs available for graduates to apply. So after graduation, I already had in mind which companies to apply to.

The application procedure was pretty straight forward. There was a vacancy for the position of “Product Specialist” on their website, so I attached my updated CV and personal statement. If your LinkedIn profile is updated, you can also send them the link. After a week, I got a call from the sales manager to meet up for an interview. I then met up with HR and had to undergo a science related objective test. The final interview was with the Franchise Head of the department. This interview was quite stressful as they wanted to see how you cope under pressure.

It definitely helps that I am from a science background with knowledge in pharmacodynamic  and pharmacokinetics. Regarding other aspects of the job like analyzing sales data and market trends, slowly I picked it up while on the job.

Internship influences decision making

I was a fresh graduate when I applied for the position of product Specialist in Novartis. So this is technically my first job. Prior to this, I did a couple of internships to give myself a better idea of the opportunities out there. I undertook an internship in Eli Lilly, also another multinational pharmaceutical company. During my time there, I gained a lot of exposure in the sales and marketing division, where I was given a first hand chance to see the life of a sales representative. This helped me make my career decision.

I started researching various companies in my second year, as I wanted to get some internship experience. After graduation, I started applying to companies through JobStreet and directly through company websites. I received an interview with GSK, but was unsuccessful in my application. Thereafter, Novartis got back to me and I accepted.

Communication skill is the key!

I would say my biggest asset — my people skills and communication skills. These two strengths are vital in a sales job like this as you will meet so many different people with differing personalities, and you must be able to convey your message to the health care professional in a confident and professional manner.

Always keep an open mind. When I started my degree at Nottingham, becoming a sales representative was the probably the last thing I thought of. And then, almost by chance, an opportunity came up and I ran with it. There are an infinite number of things that you can do with your degree, you just have to take a chance and believe in yourself.

Last but not least,

Focus on your studies, but don’t forget to have fun in the process!

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