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Catherine Gallagher – Drug and Medicinal Product Analysis Graduate

Name: Catherine Gallagher

Course: BSc (Hons) Drug and Medicinal Product Analysis

Brief description of your job: When I finished my degree I spent 2 years working as a Process Validation Analyst testing veterinary products post validation changes. I moved to a large pharmaceutical company in the West of Ireland in 2016 and began working in the QC Lab as a technician doing predominantly GC testing of products. Because of the experience I had gained in my work placement and the previous 2 years I progressed quickly in this Lab. I was promoted to Senior Analyst within 2 years and Supervisor within another 6 months and then to Lab Manager after another 2 years where I stayed until very recently. I am currently working as a Senior Manager, Quality Compliance for the same company. In this role I have responsibility for all Inspections at the site, both external and internal along with Regulatory Compliance and Site Training. The knowledge, experience and skills I have learned in TUS and further developed in my working life have all helped to get me to this point in my career.

What did you most like about your course?

The thing I liked most about the course was the amount of practical lab time in each year. This really set me up with the basics needed to work in a fast paced GMP Lab environment. The placement element in 3rd year was also a massive benefit of the course. Without this 6 month placement I do not believe I would have gotten a job so quickly when I finished my degree.

What was your experience of the teaching and learning environment in TUS?

My overall experience of the learning environment in TUS was very positive. The class was a small group of about 15 people which made the teaching much more personalised to the group. The lecturers and lab technicians where always very friendly and approachable which made it easy to ask for help when you did not understand a particular area of the course. The classes were delivered in a mix of lectures and a more practical environment which meant there was something for everyone’s learning style.

How was your work placement experience while on the course?

My work placement in 3rd year was one of the best experiences I had during my time at TUS. I was very fortunate to be able to go to another country for a paid 6-month placement. This was not only a learning experience for my degree but also for life in general. It was a great experience for me to move country on my own at 20 years old. My placement was very enjoyable, the company and people I worked with were amazing. I met friends for life while I was there. I was able to defer the final year of my degree to stay on with this company for an additional year which meant I was able to gain a massive amount of experience to bring back with me into my first role after I completed my degree. I still refer back to this company now at times during interviews for new roles as the experiences I gained during this time was unbelievable at setting me up for the successes I have had in my career so far.

How has your degree helped you in your career?

The degree I completed in TUS was so well tailored for working in a pharmaceutical lab that it made the transition from college to career very simple. The elements we covered during classes were everything that was needed to be successful in a pharmaceutical lab environment. The broad range of topics covered over the 4-year degree gave me the skills and knowledge required to be successful in every role I have taken on to date. The soft skills such as problem solving and communications skills that were developed during this time were also valuable to my careers development over the years.

What advice would you give to someone considering studying this course?

I would say Do It!! The course was well designed and well executed by experienced and dedicated staff that have a real love for what they do. The course sets you up perfectly to take on any role in the pharmaceutical industry. The work placement element will also be a massive benefit when you are applying for roles after you finish your degree. This is something I look for on a CV when hiring candidates.