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Kimberly Tan Hwee: My Journey from Internship to Employment

30 May 2023

Nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed.
~Antoine Lavoisier~


I was intrigued by the above concept whereby reactions could occur simply by the combination of two chemicals resulting in another form of chemistry. It was this fascination that sparked my interest in pursuing a degree in Chemistry. Notwithstanding, there are numerous degree options available, I was faced with the challenge of choosing the right path. It wasn’t until I participated in the IMU Student Exploratory Workshop in 2016 that the Pharmaceutical Chemistry programme captured my attention.


Fast forward to March 2020, the highly anticipated university life screeched to a halt with the enforcement of Movement Control Order (MCO) in efforts to combat the pandemic. This necessitated a swift transition to online learning which initially, posed a challenge to me. Fortunately, I managed to accommodate myself and I attribute my successful adaptation to the unwavering support and assistance provided by the lecturers and my friends, who were my pillars of strength.


As the MCO guidelines were slowly relaxed, we were allowed to return to campus to engage in laboratory work. The prospect of conducting experiments in the laboratory was genuinely exhilarating and served as a constant source of motivation for me.

My Internship Experience
I am incredibly thankful for the 4-month internship included in this programme, and it stands out as the one thing I truly appreciate.This internship opportunity allows students to choose roles and industries that aligns with their interests. Personally, I opted for a non-laboratory-based internship and was fortunate enough to secure a position in Novartis‘ Quality Department. This experience exposed me to the diverse aspects of a multinational company and provided me with invaluable hands-on tasks that went beyond what textbooks could teach.


During my internship, I had the opportunity to witness the corporate commercial operations of a pharmaceutical company, which helped me realize my inclination towards working within a corporate setting. Nevertheless, as the saying goes, “you never truly understand a job until you’re actually doing it.”

With student life officially completed in 2023, I had to grapple with what my interest really was – I was lost and overwhelmed. I sought guidance from my family, friends and mentors who gave me insights of different roles and industries. My mentor, Dr Lee’s advice stood out and struck a chord when she shared opportunities in the field of clinical research, which she believed would align well with my interests and abilities.


I am thankful that I was able to reconnect with my true passion and enthusiasm after seeking guidance from different individuals. Currently, I am a clinical trials assistant at Novartis where my primary focus is on acquiring the vital knowledge and skills required to progress into a clinical research associate role in the near future.

Essential Advice to Juniors
Consistently remember the initial interest and motivation behind your journey. By doing so, even if you get lost somewhere along the line, you will be able to persevere through.
This ties to the second advice which is to establish short and long-term goals for yourself. Defining these goals will give you a clearer sense of purpose and direction in life.
Finally, is to always embrace growth and challenges; be open to new experiences and feedback, as life is a never-ending learning curve.

Written by Kimberly Tan Hwee (PC120)

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