Profile: Joseph Balfe
Qualification: MSc Neuroscience
Role at Pacific Edge: Data Coordinator for OpenClinica Configuration.
Joseph recently made the transition from intern to Data Coordinator for OpenClinica Configuration. We asked Joseph about his internship and what it’s been like making the shift.
What drew you to applying for an internship at Pacific Edge?
I wanted to gain commercial experience in the biotechnology industry to complement my academic experience, and an internship with Pacific Edge seemed like the perfect opportunity to do this. Pacific Edge was a particularly desirable option because it was clear that the internship would allow me fully immerse in the company and learn about the intricacies of biotechnology development. After doing a bit of research, I was further drawn by the inspiring company vision. I thought it would be an honour to contribute to such a noble cause.
What did you most enjoy about the internship?
I particularly enjoyed building strong relationships with other interns and staff, while learning a range of specialist skills and developing my proficiency across the course of the internship. After a couple weeks of training and upskilling, I already felt like I was able to contribute something meaningful to the overall mission of the company, and that was extremely rewarding.
Day-to-day it was great being able to hone my skills as a barista on their café quality coffee machines. The social events were a big bonus too.
What aspect of the internship did you find most useful?
While I felt a bit out of my depth at points, the level of support from the wider team was fantastic. The nature of my internship involved a lot of problem solving, and there were often cases where we would explore a problem together and work toward a solution as a team. I think being in a position where I could apply my knowledge and bring my own suggestions to the table was extremely useful for my professional development.
Tell us about your new role at Pacific Edge
As Data Co-Ordinator for OpenClinica Configuration, I work closely with the Clinical Sciences Team to ensure that we capture and manage large amounts of Trials data as efficiently as possible. Clinical data management can be challenging so I’m often involved in a range of other tasks alongside my work in OpenClinica. This is great as I’m consistently upskilling and I am grateful because it will be extremely beneficial for my future endeavours.
How have you found the transition from university to a commercial setting?
It’s been a relatively smooth transition, given the opportunity to learn and build my skillset over the 10 week internship. Working in a commercial setting is certainly more fast-paced, rigorous, and team-oriented. Added to that, the work we do on a daily basis has a direct positive impact, making the role highly rewarding. At university, maintaining work-life balance could also be a challenge, e.g. often studying late into the evenings. I’ve found that working in a commercial setting – and for a company that looks after its staff - promotes a much more balanced lifestyle. This has helped facilitate a smooth transition.
What do you love about the Dunedin lifestyle now that you’ve nearly finished university?
I’ve always loved Dunedin for its vibrant student culture, and I’ve met so many brilliant people as a result, leading to number of life-long friendships. Outside of the University, there are plenty of exciting things to do and to get involved with around Dunedin. For one, there are loads of great cafes around, and I think being close to the beach is a nice bonus too.
Any general advice or tips for aspiring interns?
I would advise coming into the internship with an open mind, and a strong willingness to learn. There will be times (many in my case) where things do not seem to make sense, so it is important to remember that the team are there to support you. In this context, make sure to ask plenty of questions. However, it is also beneficial for your own development to give things your best shot before requesting guidance, as you may indeed surprise yourself with your capabilities. Lastly, have fun! This is a new and exciting adventure, and you never know where it may take you.
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