PSI VisSIG Wonderful Wednesday Webinar Series
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I am currently studying Mathematics at the University of Reading. I decided to do a placement year as I thought a year in industry would help me to decide what I would like to do after university and to gain valuable skills and experience. I specifically wanted to do a programming placement as I wanted to see how programming can be used in industry, as well as developing my programming skills beyond what is taught at university. I also hoped that a placement year would give me direction and drive to finish my studies and to shape my career plans.
Company, job title and length of placement
After submitting my CV and cover letter and having an interview, I was offered a position as a senior statistical programming technician at IQVIA for 12 months in the biostatistics department. I have worked mostly on oncological studies, as well as a COVID-19 and gastrointestinal sdytu. Working on the COVID-19 study particularly stood out to me due to it being such a prominent current world event.
What a typical day is like
A typical day for me involves logging on, checking emails and MS Teams messages, then loading up the programming server and checking my tasks. After seeing what was required or acting upon any communication from emails or MS Teams, I would program on SAS for most of the day. Throughout the day I’d have regular communication with team members and have meetings and training sessions. I particularly like that I work with people from all over the world at IQVIA, despite its challenges, as it has allowed me to work with a great variety of people and learn from them.
Development of soft skills
My soft skills have developed a lot during my placement, such as my communication skills through agreeing deadlines, giving status updates, and asking for help – a skill that I have found incredibly important in helping me learn. I had basic SAS experience before coming here, however was trained as if I had no experience, which I found to be helpful and enabled me to ask questions in a pressure free environment. I am also much more confident using Excel, and I can use Outlook and other software much more effectively now too. The biggest area I have improved in is my SAS programming, it is something I have used throughout my placement and have continued to learn and improve, long after the initial training period.
Advice for students
I would recommend a placement year to most people. I found a year to be a good length of time as I have still been able to learn and improve throughout the entirety of my placement, whereas if it was a summer placement, I feel that I would have been limited in the amount I could learn. The placement year gives a good insight into working life, as well as giving you new experiences, challenges and meeting people.
What I’d like to do next
I am unsure on what I would like to do after completing my degree but having this placement has opened my eyes to a new industry that I was unfamiliar with. In the future I would consider working in biostatistics at IQVIA, as I have enjoyed working at the company.