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Abbey Fuller - Amgen

Abbey Fuller

June 2009 to June 2010

I had always wanted to study maths, so when initially applying for university, I only chose courses with an opportunity to do a placement year. When choosing my placement I felt that the atmosphere and my work colleagues were the most important factors. When I went for my interview at Amgen, I felt that everyone I met during my interview day was very friendly, and I left genuinely hoping that I would end up working at Amgen for my placement year. Naturally, when I received the phone call offering me the job, I was both excited and nervous for my first day in June 2009.

I've always been told that doing a placement year is so important for finding a job after graduating and giving you an introduction to working life. For me, my placement year has justified this. Having never worked in an office before, the skills that I have gained this year have been invaluable. Attending, speaking up, and even presenting in meetings has boosted my confidence and greatly improved my communication skills, and participating in student interviews has given me an insight into what qualities are essential for securing a job.

Although I had no preference on the type of company I worked for I am glad that I ended up working in a pharmaceutical company. I found the experience rewarding as, although only in a small way, you are helping contribute towards improving patient's quality of life.

I was nervous at first as I had no previous experience in statistical programming or using SAS and I had no idea what to expect. However, being given the opportunity to attend an offsite SAS course and having a wealth of experience readily available from my co-workers settling into Amgen and statistical programming became much easier than I expected.

One of the best advantages of my placement year is all the training I received from Amgen. Attending inhouse and offsite training has given me an in depth knowledge of SAS as well as both the pharmaceutical industry and clinical trials. This included an in-house Statistics course and the online SAS certification program from the SAS institute. This included 23 modules and a final exam. Having the opportunity to complete the SAS Base Certification Programmer exam has given me a professional qualification that I can include on my CV.

I found the work that I was given at Amgen to be both interesting and challenging and therefore more satisfying to complete. Having a role of the Statistical Industrial Placement Student I have been able to work closely with both programmers and statisticians and have had the opportunity to work on general programming study work, some exploratory analyses and even had the opportunity to create my own macro to simulate oncology clinical trials.

Having such a broad variety of work, I learnt a lot. Performing the exploratory analyses, I enjoyed broadening my medical statistics knowledge and gaining confidence in producing Kaplan-Meier curves and hazard ratios using SAS.

My varied work meant that as well as working on smaller projects I have also had the opportunity to work on larger, more time consuming projects. One of my proudest accomplishments was creating the macro to simulate oncology trials. It was a unique area that hadn't been studied at Amgen before and having the opportunity to present the simulation project at an international biostatistics meeting made me feel like a valued member of the biostats team.

Overall, I feel that my year has been a complete success as I have had such a fantastic time. I have met a wealth of really nice people and have gained confidence in my statistical knowledge and communication skills. This year will not only aid me in my final year, but also after graduating. My experience has helped me decide on my future career, hopefully moving forward to work in the pharmaceutical industry again after completing university. To anyone that is considering doing a placement year, I would say that you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

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