Back in September, Susan Whelan joined the Q1 Scientific team as a Stability and Operations Technician. Just after starting with Q1 Scientific, Susan received an email from the University of Limerick to say that they were awarding her ‘Student of the Year’ after graduating top of her class.
Here Susan tells us more about starting her new role with Q1 Scientific and how she became Student of the Year.
Tell us more about yourself and you came to study Environmental Science
I loved science in school and knew that I wanted to study science in college. Joining the Environmental Science course at University of Limerick was a pure accident. I had done some research into the science field and read about the course on the University of Limerick website. Although I was interested in studying Environmental Science after reading the website it was a back-up course and the second choice on my application form.
When the offer came through, I was initially a bit apprehensive, however I knew that I wanted to study at the University of Limerick. After accepting the offer, I ended up really enjoying the course.
What do you think were the best parts of the course and what were the most challenging aspects?
For me, the most challenging aspect was the amount of chemistry content in the course. Chemistry was not my favourite science subject in school however, this was vastly different. It ended up being my best subject in college and I really enjoyed it.
The best part was the small class sizes. Not many people know about the course and having smaller class sizes allowed us to get to know the lecturers well. This made the course more enjoyable and we had great conversations.
How did you become Student of the Year?
Student of the Year is awarded to the student that comes top of the class and gets the highest grades. I was also Class Rep for the last two years and I think this helped too.
Receiving the award really was a complete surprise! There were other students who also had a similar work ethic. Overall, I think all my hard work paid off. There is now a plaque with my name on it in the science corridor at the University of Limerick.
Did Covid-19 have an impact on your studies?
Covid-19 made everything more difficult. When the first lockdown was announced back in March, I was in the middle of completing my dissertation.
My dissertation was lab based but thankfully I had completed all my experiments by then. I was in the process of writing up all my results when I had to move back home. I missed being on campus and seeing all my classmates. In addition, I had no proper desk to work from back at home!
Before the lockdown I was working towards finishing my dissertation and revising for exams. This all changed though as my final exams became 12 final assignments. The workload was tough on top of trying to finish my dissertation.
Sending that last email with the final assignment was very anti climatic. After all the hard work there were no celebrations, and I missed the opportunity to say goodbye to my classmates and lecturers.
What attracted you to join Q1 Scientific?
Well I am from Waterford and wanted to stay in the area. I went through a local recruitment agency to try and find a graduate science position.
As I was talking to the recruiter, they mentioned that a new role for a Stability and Operations Technician had just come in from Q1 Scientific. I had not heard of Q1 Scientific until the recruiter mentioned them to me. After hearing more about Q1 Scientific and the role I knew it would be a good opportunity to gain experience in a GMP environment.
I have a strong interest in laboratory and science work and thought the Stability and Operations Technician role at Q1 Scientific would be a good fit. I also knew that I would gain good documentation experience.
Can you tell us more about your role as a Stability and Operations Technician at Q1 Scientific?
Every day at work is different depending on if we have any sample pulls, set downs, quality paperwork or checks to be completed. As a Stability and Operations Technician, I set down and pull samples for a wide variety of pharmaceutical, medical device and food science clients who all have different temperature and humidity storage requirements.
Q1 Scientific have a custom Electronic Sample Tracking System, known as ESTS, to manage stability samples. Through scanning bar codes, I can manage all client studies, sample set downs / returns and track the location of samples.
Usually the day before I check the schedule for samples that need to be pulled from stability storage and sent back to clients. That way I can plan my morning or week ahead and I know what needs to be achieved.
In addition to following SOPs and completing quality paperwork, I work as part of the Operations team and closely with the Quality team to ensure that all activities are fully in compliance with cGMP standards.
Finally, any tips for graduates seeking work over the coming year?
Try recruitment agencies. You never know what opportunities are available.
Really sell your college experience and know your strengths. For example, I was able to talk about my Excel experience using my college assignments and final year project as examples.
Do not be hesitant to apply for roles and look for opportunities to build your experience.
Find out more about Q1 Scientific
Q1 Scientific offer a complete stability sample management service and can organise and secure your sample inventory. We offer:
- ICH compliant and non-ICH stability storage chambers with 24/7, 365 days of the year monitoring and built-in safeguards
- Custom conditions to meet the specific storage requirements of any project
- Fully validated systems and equipment
- A monitoring and alert system and emergency back-up generators
- A complete stability study sample management service with sample receipt and return documentation along with notifications for scheduled pulls for testing
- A secure cloud-based documentation solution for your sample management
- Temperature controlled transfer and transport
- Access to a team of highly experienced pharmaceutical industry experts trained in recording cGMP compliant data
With tightly controlled temperatures and humidity rates at our spacious cGMP facility, we can store and manage any samples over the full life cycle of your stability plans.
To discuss how we can help you with your stability storage requirements contact the team today.