Last Friday marked the end of my first month as a medical writing intern and 5 weeks since I reached out to Bilal Bham at Bham Pharma asking for some experience in the industry. In September, when I blanket sent out my CV asking for an internship, I did not expect to be sat here writing this now, reflecting on how much I have learned. One month may not seem like a long time, but already I have learned so much about the industry and how to use Word correctly. Whoever you are reading this blog, whether it be someone considering a career in medical writing or someone who has already worked in the industry for years, I hope you find it an interesting insight into what I have learned in my first month.
Eyes Like a Hawk
This is the best way to describe an experienced medical writer. Their attention to detail is extraordinary. So, if you are in the position where I was last month, applying for Junior medical writer roles, please do not ignore it when they say, ‘a good eye for detail is essential’. It is not simply a buzz-phrase that they use. It is honestly essential and something which must be proven in your CV. If one full stop is out of place, or there is an accidental double space in a sentence, it will be spotted and it will be the first black mark against your name.
Software is our Saviour
This was the most surprising lesson for me. A month ago, I did not have a clue on how to use Word properly, and I did not realise how important it would be. Word is an amazing tool which is designed to do half of the work for you, so please whoever you are reading this, if you spend a lot of time writing and forming complex documents, please dedicate a day to learning Word. Learn how to change the Styles and produce an automatic table of contents. Learn what the little ruler at the top does and how to adjust tab stops. Learn what the keyboard shortcuts do and how to edit them into easy to remember sequences. And please, if you write academically, do yourself a favour and install a referencing extension like Zotero. If I had known what I do now, I would have saved myself a lot of time and stress throughout university.
Take a Chance on Me…
It is hard to sell yourself at job interviews and in covering letters when you do not know what a job involves, and in hindsight, this is probably one of the reasons (as well as lack of experience) why my job hunt was unsuccessful.
I hope this blog provides a small insight into the industry. Medical writing (from what I have learned so far) is not just about having the ability to write scientific documents. It is about having an eye for detail and the ability to switch between projects seamlessly with the same level of accuracy. I know I was lucky in securing myself this internship, but I would encourage any recent graduate, in any industry, to be bold and reach out to companies to ask for experience. You might just be surprised at how many people are willing to give you a chance. One thing all recent graduates lack is the ridiculous level of experience all ‘graduate’ roles seem to require. With a little experience, graduates will be able to understand what the job involves and will be able to truly sell themselves at interviews.
This is not just a brief insight into my first month as a medical writing intern, this is also a request to companies to give students a chance. Everyone was new to the industry once, so please remember how hard it was to gain that valuable early step into the industry. Please, take a chance on graduates.