Spotlight on Placement

Student Stories- Eli Lilly MSc Placement 2019

Our MSc Biotechnology student Shannen Ruane gives us the inside scoop on her placement with Eli Lilly 

Starting placement as part of my masters, I didn’t know what to expect as there was no placement as part of my undergrad degree. The careers office were very helpful with organising interviews with companies for the MSc Biotechnology students. The interview process was quite daunting and having not been chosen for the first two days of interviews I had begun to lose hope of getting a really good company for placement. However, I was lucky enough to be chosen as one of the candidates that Eli Lilly wanted to interview. There were two interviews on the same day one after the other. The first was a HR based interview with a personnel representative from Eli Lilly. It was very casual and the interviewer made me feel at ease. The second was a technical based interview with someone based in the lab, which involved discussing my previous lab work and my fourth year project. Both interviews gave a real sense of what the company wanted and how they operated, which only added to the hope that I would be successful. The decisions from the interviews came in only a few hours after the interviews took place and I was lucky enough to be one of two students chosen.

It was a long wait between the interviews in September and the placement beginning in April. For my placement I was based in the TS/MS Large Molecule Lab in Eli Lilly. The lab acts as a support for manufacturing by running studies on small scale equipment to model the large scale manufacturing process. On the day of my induction I was brought to lunch by my supervisor, where I was introduced to the rest of the lab group. Everyone was really welcoming and very easy to chat to and they made you feel at ease on a very nerve-wrecking day. Shortly after starting my placement I realised how much training was involved. There was a lot of computer based training before being allowed to touch anything in the lab and receive your lab access. For my project, I was based in upstream cell culture and had the fantastic opportunity of learning how to run 5L bioreactors, something I would’ve never experienced in college. This project was then used for my thesis project. Everyone was very helpful in providing support for the writing of my thesis and helping with background information.

The people in Eli Lilly are all very approachable and the culture is something I had never seen before. People passing each other and saying hello regardless of if you know the person or not, brought a sense of community to the site and made everyone seem very approachable. The culture in Lilly is very important to the company and you can tell from the Sports and Social events that are organised on site. I was lucky enough to help prepare for and help out on the day of the Family Fun day, which included organising posters, races and activities for the employees’ families. I also took part in the Lilly Champions League which was a football tournament organised by the students and was a great way to meet other students and employees onsite.

All in all, I’ve really enjoyed my time here at Eli Lilly. I’ve learned a lot, met loads of lovely people and I’ve also massively improved both my confidence and also my understanding of how manufacturing sites operate. I’m looking forward to my final month here and am excited to see how well my placement has prepared me for jobs in the future.



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