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An IMU Pharmaceutical Chemistry Student’s Internship Experience during a Pandemic

23 Jun 2021

Kiranjeet Kaur Bajwa (in the photo above) shares her internship experience at Blackmores KL.

I had a very interesting start to my degree life, as I had absolutely no idea how this course would work out for me. I only had prior information from the internet and I was excited to try out a new course which I had never heard of. However, it is safe to say that I am glad I decided to carry on with the Pharmaceutical Chemistry programme which is only offered in IMU because I found myself interested in the different concepts taught in this programme. I also think that undergoing this programme would give me a wide scope of jobs I could partake in the future. With regards to IMU preparing me for my internship, I would say throughout my time spent in IMU I have improved my communication skills and confidence especially not being afraid of asking questions when needed. As part of the Pharmaceutical Chemistry programme, I had the opportunity to undergo my internship attachment (1/12/2020 – 31/3/2021) with two departments which were Regulatory Affairs and Education and Training at Blackmores KL. Blackmores is a company that originated from Australia. It is known for selling vitamin, mineral and nutritional supplements in many countries like Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and more. Interning for a well-renowned company that serves known supplements to many different countries in fast-paced, dynamic environment allows for something new to learn and to work on every day. At the beginning this internship, I was thrilled as it was my first experience being in a proper working environment. However, due to the pandemic, the company practised working from home throughout my internship. I did indeed feel I was at a slight disadvantage from my other classmates as some of them had the opportunity to actually go to their work places and receive the full experience. However, on the bright side, I did manage to go to the office around 4 times to do necessary tasks that required my presence in the office. In Regulatory Affairs department, the knowledge applied during my internship period were about what I had learnt back in IMU for my course in Pharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Analysis III. With the knowledge I had in Pharmaceutics, there were aspects of in process quality control tests that I had observed while doing the specifications reviewing such as content uniformity and disintegration time. According to different dosage forms, there were different requirements. Apart from that, I also grasp the information from when we learnt Pharmaceutical Analysis III during our practical sessions specifically regarding the finished dosage form testing. When I reviewed the finished product specification for products as assigned to me by my supervisor, I saw parameters which I had previous knowledge of from this module such as the certificate of analysis which was provided, hardness test, assay, and many more. Mainly the department will look into the ingredients and test parameters to check if they comply with the Malaysian guidelines. On the other hand, Education & Training department, this department basically educates the public/pharmacists which interact with the people and understand their needs. Additionally, the department takes care and handles a programme by Blackmores Institute called Complementary Medicine Education (CMEd). In this department, there were not a set of guidelines we had to follow but more of step by step basis in a sequential manner. This is done with the CMEd program, starting from getting pharmacists to join the programme, registering for the course, completing the modules, and finally attending the masterclass.

My Experience Working Remotely
Overall working remotely, you need to have that set of confidence in your work as it is a lot different from being in a working environment in the office and being at home alone when you have no quick access to rely on anyone about the work you submit. Communication is also a very important skill that you will need to brush up on if not it will be quite a challenge for the candidate to communicate with your peers when an issue or a doubt arises. Working from home would comprise of unexpected email/meetings even at odd hours which you should be ready to manage your time very well, however with this, I will also like to say do not overwork yourself as it will not benefit you especially when you are trying to keep up with completing all your tasks given. I will say this with experience, because during my internship along the way I did stumble upon myself being over stressed and draining myself physically and mentally which even caught the attention of my supervisor who told me to take it easy and plan out my tasks completion in a proper way. I started to take things slowly as well as I always recheck my work several times before sending in, indeed it help me a lot especially with the quality of my work and how detailed it became as well. I learnt to be diligent and manage my time wisely. It is important to have regular breaks even when you’re working remotely to rest your mind and eyes from the screen especially. Check-in regularly with your supervisor as they would also be wondering if you have been attending to the emails that they’ve sent you or what’s the progress of the tasks that you’re working on for the day. Lastly, I would say the most important aspect to working from home is being consistent to our day to day working basis in regards to your quality of work and productiveness.

At the end of my internship, I had received feedbacks from my supervisors and the feedbacks I received motivated me to improve however possible I can and, also made this experience worthwhile with regards to the effort put into it. This internship has been a great learning opportunity for me and helped me gain first-hand exposure of working. As a result, I had to learn to prepare ahead of time, work effectively, and react to the consequences. I learnt how to be particular with minor details and how thorough I will have to be when doing for product reviews. It allowed me to harness my knowledge and skills learnt from my university. In the future, I hope to explore other industries in the manufacturing field assisting in formulating medicines and others. I would possibly also like to venture into the cosmeceutical industry to gain knowledge and insight on how things work in that line.

Written by Kiranjeet Kaur Bajwa

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