March 21, 2023, by Mei Kee Lee
Student Sharing: My Industrial Internship Experience at Roche – Denise Gan Wei Suan
Article written by Denise Gan Wei Suan, a Pharmaceutical and Health Sciences Year 2 student. She interned at Roche (Malaysia) during the previous summer break.
Hello readers, I’m Wei Suan, better known as Denise in the community. I’m currently a second-year Pharmaceutical and Health Science undergraduate student. Before I proceed to share with you my industrial placement experience, I’d just like to put a little disclaimer ahead that everything that I’ve mentioned will be my words and my opinion and is not meant to represent any party including Roche, take it as a light-hearted read and I hope you would enjoy it!
Before I go ahead and dive into my job scope, let me take a step back and explain a little bit about my choice and run you through the interview process as well. It might come off as a surprising choice that I chose this internship and not any other job that you would expect like working in a community pharmacy, given that I’m studying in such a field, but I’ve always been a people-oriented person and I’m trying to not limit my future choices to roles that are directly related to my degree. I know that I have certain soft skills that I can regard as my strength, and I’d like to put them to full use and leverage them. This role to me was the perfect balance for me, as it allows me to perform and add value to the company while gaining more insights and experience in industrial works, especially in a pharmaceutical company. This is also the perfect opportunity for me to figure out if this job scope and work environment is something that I can flourish in the future.
How did you find your intern position?
I stumbled upon this internship opportunity on LinkedIn. At that point, I’d already signed up for the summer placement opportunity in school but I found this internship and could not get my mind off of it. I sent in my application the night I saw it and soon enough, I received a call from the talent acquisition team from Roche that I’ve been shortlisted for an interview. A week later, I attended the interview, it was nerve-wracking (nerve-wracking) as you would expect but if I were to give any advice to anyone going into an interview, I would say the questions are generally not as difficult as you would expect. For the most part, they’re just asking about my experience, things that I’ve achieved, skills that I possessed and leveraged on, and a glimpse of my personality. 2 days after my interview, I received a call from the talent acquisition team that I’ve performed excellently, and the decision was made almost immediately after my interview ended. I was so thrilled to receive that call and instantly started to complete all the legal documents needed to secure this offer. And that pretty much sums up my interview experience, nothing notably challenging, instead, it was surprisingly simple.
What is your internship job scope?
Now, down to the most important part of this article, in which I will be describing to you what my day-to-day job looks like. I work in the Strategy and Transformation team which you could imagine as a people-oriented, project-based department. The problem with such a department is that we have to work with a lot of uncertainties, our project depends on the needs of the company and is highly affected by the people factor, mainly our stakeholders. I won’t be able to go into in-depth detail about the projects that I’m working with as they are confidential but in a general sense, we’re working on several projects consecutively to enhance our workplace and accommodate the post-lockdown environment. My team is also called the Global People Enablement Squad. From the name itself, I think it’s pretty clear that I work in a very global team, which consists of people from different countries and time zones, such as Costa Rica and Budapest. There are various pros and cons to this, the pros being the global connection I got to build is definitely a very unique and priceless experience. It also is a great way for me to exercise working with people of different backgrounds, ethnicity and time zone. I have to be extra mindful when it comes to scheduling any meeting, ensuring that the meeting timing is appropriate for all while making sure to minimize meeting hours and work efficiently in a way to avoid overworking everyone. Following this point that I’ve mentioned, the downside of working in this team is also revealed, which is the time zone differences. My meeting hours are usually ungodly hours like 8pm to 10pm, in some cases, I would have consecutive meetings up to midnight. I don’t sleep early to start with so it’s easier for me to work with this timing but the problem that comes with this is also that it would be difficult for me to schedule family dinners or casual dinners with friends because of my ‘flexible’ working hour. Despite all of that, I would say my workload is still relatively low and that’s a common phenomenon for interns. To get the most out of my internship, I joined several other independent initiatives in the company that is open to all employees. In most cases, larger corporate companies tend to provide a lot of opportunities to train and develop more leaders for the company. These ‘volunteer’ opportunities gave me a great platform to learn more about different sides of the company operations and to engage new connections with colleagues in distinct departments.
In addition to all of the above, I’ll dive a little bit into the company culture and environment I experienced. The company culture in Roche is fairly unique, it is an unconventional structure in which hierarchy is blurred and everyone is urged to be their leader. A ‘Flat Organization’ is a term that we usually use to describe our system. Empowerment is one of the best practices in the company, in which everyone is given an adequate amount of trust and all ideas presented to the table are valid. This concept is so new to me that sometimes the positionings and structures in the company can be confusing but overall, it’s still a very fresh insight to learn from. The people in the company are generally very approachable and welcoming. The ambience that you can expect to feel in the company is definitely a friendly and accepting environment, in which you can approach anyone in the company when in doubt and they will always answer you or guide you to the right person. The office also has a shared collaborative space kind of setting which means that I don’t actually get a designated seat in the office. The working environment here really do provide many opportunities to all employees, as mentioned, the company has some projects which would serve as a side commitment to employees who are interested, like Diversity and Inclusion chapter and Roche Internship Club (RIC) that I actively work and contributed in. RIC in particular is especially beneficial for interns, as it is an intern-centric community with the purpose of providing learning and networking opportunities to all interns in Roche and it is also one of my favorite initiatives that I’ve driven.
In a nutshell, I would say this internship experience has given me so much, in terms of connections, experience, social skills and operation insights. Even though this role is not directly related to the degree that I’m pursuing but it definitely allowed me to see things in another light. If you were to consider applying for internship, I would definitely recommend trying out for Roche, the competition is definitely tight to get in but trust me, it’s worth it.