April 30, 2024, by Mei Kee Lee

Experience Sharing: Summer Internship at Benefit Cosmetics and Novo Nordisk

By Tan Wei Hui, who is currently a Year 3 Bachelor of Science in Pharmaceutical and Health Sciences (PHS) student based at UNM.


Hello, readers! I am Tan Wei Hui, or you can call me Natalie, a final-year undergraduate student in Pharmaceutical & Health Sciences. I am eager to share my industrial placement experience with you. Before we jump into the details, a quick disclaimer – what you are about to read is my personal perspective. It is not meant to represent any specific entity, including Benefit Cosmetics and Novo Nordisk. So, let’s embark on this casual yet captivating journey together, and I hope you find it an enjoyable read!


My Internship Experience at Benefit Cosmetics and Novo Nordisk

Landing an internship was no walk in the park; in fact, it took some perseverance and a bit of luck. I applied to over 20 openings, setting the stage for a summer filled with vibrant experiences.


Diving into the World of Cosmetics

Benefit Cosmetics was my starting point, where I stepped into a world bursting with colours and creativity. The interview was surprisingly relaxed, more like a friendly chat where I got to share my enthusiasm for cosmetics. To my delight, I landed the role of a retail and education intern for Malaysia and Singapore on the spot.

During my time at Benefit Cosmetics, I was responsible for various tasks, from tracking and updating daily digital sales reports for the Malaysian market to assisting with Brow Bar requests. Little did I know, this marked my first experience working with people from other countries, where engaging online meetings became the heartbeat of our team’s dynamics. Taking notes during the short and information-packed online meetings were key to ensuring strong collaboration across borders.

One of the highlights of my internship was organizing an educational event with Sephora Singapore, where we blended education with entertaining games, creating an enjoyable learning experience for employees and store managers in both Malaysia and Singapore. Benefit not only welcomed interns’ imaginative ideas but also transformed them into tangible events. It was an immersive learning experience where I contributed ideas and actively engaged in planning and executing events.

The team in Malaysia might have been small, but we were like a close group of friends. I vividly recall feeling like it was Christmas every week, especially on my first and last days when I left with bags full of Benefit’s products.

Making Choices: The Novo Nordisk Opportunity

As the weeks rolled by at Benefit Cosmetics, I was presented with an opportunity from Novo Nordisk. The pharmaceutical industry was more aligned with my academic path, creating a bit of a dilemma. Although I was enjoying my time at Benefit Cosmetics, I decided to take a leap and go for the interview at Novo Nordisk, a move for which I am extremely grateful to my managers at Benefit for their encouragement.

I came across the opening for the regulatory affairs and pharmacovigilance internship at Novo Nordisk on LinkedIn back in May and promptly applied through the platform. Following my application, Novo Nordisk’s talent acquisition team conducted the first round of shortlisting, and subsequently, I received an initial call. This process spanned over a month. Further assessments of my suitability for the position followed, during which I was requested to provide additional information in response to inquiries via email. This phase was rather straightforward.

The next day, I was shortlisted for a physical interview, giving me a week to prepare. The interview at Novo Nordisk was less daunting than anticipated, lasting approximately 30 minutes. We delved into discussions about my resume, experiences, skills, and academic background, focusing on how they could contribute to the regulatory affairs and pharmacovigilance role. The interviewer, who later became my manager, provided insights into the role and shared in-depth details about the associated career prospects.

After the interview, the waiting period without receiving any calls heightened my anxiety, leading me to send follow-up emails to inquire about the result. After nervously waiting for three weeks, I finally received a call, and to my delight, I was offered the job at Novo Nordisk.


Diving into the World of Pharmaceuticals

Transitioning between cosmetics and pharmaceutical industry may seem like a sharp contrast, but the skills and knowledge acquired from both experiences complemented each other remarkably well.

At Novo Nordisk, my responsibilities involved ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements for pharmaceutical products and monitoring the safety of marketed drugs. The experience was eye-opening, delving into the meticulous processes and stringent guidelines necessary to ensure the safety and efficacy of pharmaceutical products.

Beyond reporting global adverse events for Novo Nordisk’s medical devices and medications to our internal system and the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agencies (NPRA), my responsibilities expanded to crafting patient information leaflets, generating monthly reports for our department and assisting in conducting training sessions, which cover topics such as pharmacovigilance and step-by-step reporting of adverse events. Moreover, I contributed to quality control checks for adverse events, ensuring precision and compliance. I also actively participated in liaising with relevant authorities for post-marketing surveillance, contributing to the regulatory aspect of pharmaceutical safety. Furthermore, I took on additional tasks, including leading a successful World Patient Safety Day 2023 celebration with a theme focused on engaging patients for patient safety. The event featured elements like engaging infographics, quizzes, interactive games and role-plays, creating a dynamic and educational atmosphere in the office.

Novo Nordisk was more than just a workplace; it was a community. The company’s culture was exceptional, fostering a friendly and accepting environment. Approachable and warm people at Novo Nordisk made it easy to seek guidance or collaborate across departments, contributing to a positive workplace culture. Additionally, I was surprised and thrilled by the company’s robust welfare system, which included the provision of lunch for three days every week. In this enriching experience at Novo Nordisk, I gained insights into the collaborative spirit of the workplace and the importance of fostering a supportive and friendly culture within a professional setting.


A Summer of Learning and Gratitude

My internship adventure was marked by contrasts, from the vibrant cosmetics industry to the meticulous pharmaceutical industry. I am immensely thankful for this journey, where I learned the importance of adaptability. The dual experience broadened my perspective, providing a valuable blend of customer-centric approaches and regulatory insights that I believe will play a significant role in shaping my future career.

To fellow students considering internships, I share not advice but insights from my journey. Stay proactive and open-minded, apply widely, and explore different industries. Every internship, regardless of the field, offers unique lessons. I have learnt to never hesitate to seek clarification, as people are genuinely invested in supporting interns. However, I believe actively absorbing information and taking notes during meetings and briefings significantly ease the workload, allowing us to recall instructions more clearly. This helps minimize inquiries and undoubtedly leaves a lasting positive impression on superiors. Cultivating strong relationships within the company, especially with our team, makes it easier to seek assistance and opens up great opportunities. Be proactive and volunteer for tasks; at Novo Nordisk, I took on designing newsletters, which helped me build connections with diverse departments. Engaging with professionals across departments provides an understanding of different roles, offering us, interns a broader industry perspective and aiding in identifying future career paths. Additionally, seize opportunities to lead events or tasks without hesitation. Interns may feel small and worried about their capabilities, but I can assure colleagues and superiors are always there to guide and support us. Lastly, there’s often a question of whether what we learn in class is applicable in the industry. In my role at Novo Nordisk, having a solid foundational knowledge is essential for understanding articles, regulations, and adverse events that are crucial to my job. Personally, I draw connections to my academic studies and this connection motivates me in my work within the pharmaceutical industry.

As I pen down these reflections, I am filled with gratitude for the remarkable summer that shaped my perspective and contributed to my growth. As my journey continues, I look forward to the adventures that lie ahead.

Posted in Experience SharingInternshipPHS