Last Wednesday was the annual PSI Careers Event at the University of Reading. The event focused on promoting statistics in the pharmaceutical industry, attended by leading companies in the field. I was extremely lucky to have been sponsored by the IDEAS network to attend this event, which allowed me to gain valuable insight into the world of pharmaceutical statistics and learn about the personal experiences of people in the industry.
I am a second year Natural Sciences student at Lancaster University. Currently I study modules in Biology and Chemistry, but am still unsure about my future beyond completing my degree. I initially made contact with IDEAS at a careers fair at Lancaster due to my interest in a possible career in research and was interested in their drive to improve the efficiency of drug development through the use of advanced statistical methods. Since I lacked a statistical background, we agreed that attending the PSI Careers event would be a great opportunity for me to learn about pharmaceutical statistics and discover what career prospects would available to someone in my position.
The day began with talks by representatives from PSI and a variety of companies attending the event. A talk from ROCHE detailed the roles of statisticians and programmers. I thought a career in programming would not be available to someone lacking past experience, however this was not the case. It became apparent that programming was more about having the correct ‘state of mind’, with good problem solving skills and attention to detail and therefore was a route I could go down. A new starter at Veramed discussed his unorthodox route into the industry, studying English at university but then doing a masters in medical statistics. This showed that a career in this industry can be accessed through a relevant master’s degree, without experience prior.
After the talks was an opportunity to explore the stalls, chatting to representatives from various companies, universities, research networks and clinical trials units about their experience in the industry and positions they have to offer within their organisations. I hoped that by telling these representatives my position, they would advise me on what to do to enter the industry. The majority of responses directed me towards an Msci in medical statistics, if I was set on becoming a statistician for a pharmaceutical company. Many companies also offered roles as programmers which could be applied for straight from a Bsc. The IDEAS stall also played a vital role, showing students that working for a company was not their only option, they could also be employed to conduct important research and earn a PhD at the same time.
Overall the event was extremely helpful, introducing me to the industry, showing that it’s a career path still accessible to me and giving me steps to follow to pursue my options further. Through networking with companies present I made valuable contacts I can now use to get further information about potential careers, future events and opportunities for summer placements; all valuable steps in deciding my future. I am very grateful to the researchers promoting IDEAS that I accompanied to the event. They were so welcoming, friendly and helpful throughout the trip, making my stay in Reading not only informative, but extremely enjoyable too.