Doing a RiKO internship at Roche? Ask Samira!
So, tell me a bit about yourself, maybe something about your time at university or any prior work experience before coming to Roche.
I’m Samira Sigron. I studied Biomedicine at the University of Zurich and I graduated in January with my master’s degree.
Yeah, thank you! And right afterwards I started here. It was really only two weeks later that I started at Roche.
What was it about the industry that caught your interest?
I like that you have a lot of people to interact with, and that everyone works at different interfaces in a big international setting. You have the opportunity to see a lot of different projects and can even contribute to them. Yeah, I think that’s what made me so interested, initially. I mean, Roche is such an important part of the pharma industry, so you naturally start thinking: “Yeah, that’s a company I want to work in.” During our studies we were also introduced to the pharma industry, and there are so many different jobs here. Just briefly before we started chatting today we spoke about how Roche has gardeners and photographers … and then you have the whole spectrum of positions that every company in the pharmaceutical industry has. I work in the training department and we are responsible for the quality units here at the Kaiseraugst site and we see so many different departments. We work with Quality Control, Quality Assurance, Quality Systems and, yeah, it’s like a huge machine that comes together. There are so many groups that work together for a good purpose.
So your work helps improve patients’ lives?
Yes, the training department basically ensures that employees know what they are doing. We make sure that everyone is qualified and that everyone knows why they’re doing what they do. Overall this leads to better work and, by extension, better products. By ensuring that quality is always maintained, we improve patients’ lives. This is really important to me.
So, you’re saying that this really aligns with your core values?
Yes, exactly! We always have the patients in mind ... and even if you’re not working on the development of medicine, we all know what we are working for. When I go home I don’t just sit at my desk and think: “Yeah, I work there because I need a job,” but instead you have a greater purpose. So, that really keeps me motivated.
Are there any other values at Roche that you identify with and want to talk about a little bit?
I think the three Roche core values describe our work pretty well. You have to be courageous in order to take risks and develop new products. In order to think outside of the box you have to be passionate about what you’re doing. And you need integrity to stay focused and keep the patients in mind. So, yeah, I think those are great values and I also think you can identify with the values when you’re working at Roche because you see them in people’s actions every day.
Have you had to be courageous at work? Do you have an example maybe?
Maybe I can talk a bit about when I started? So, I have to say that before I came here I was a bit unsure of myself. Roche really helped me to become more outgoing and taught me how to approach people. So that, for me, was the point where I had to be courageous. I needed to just go up to people and ask them questions or tell them what’s on my mind. I think it’s a really great setting to share ideas. I like that. You can do that because people listen to you. In the beginning it’s uncomfortable to say: “Yeah, this is my idea,” but you know that people will listen to you; even if you are an intern they accept your ideas. In the beginning I had to be courageous. You get to know so many new people and while it’s difficult to get out there in the beginning it’s important to just embrace this huge opportunity.
But do you feel like your opinions are valued?
Yes, I definitely do, and as I said before; you may just be an intern, but as for me, my line manager accepts and appreciates my opinion as much as my co-workers do. We are all on an equal level and everybody is welcome to contribute. It’s great. Expressing ideas is encouraged and we all discuss things together making sure that we accept each other’s point of view..
Great! So, what are you working on right now?
Mostly we do customer support for employees in the quality unit regarding training. We do a lot of work with the Learning Management Systems, which is quite an important topic at the moment because we are migrating all of Roche to a new system. This takes a lot of time and it’s really cool to be a part of such a big project. I have the opportunity to learn a lot of new things and I also spend a lot of time helping other people, explaining things and keeping everyone informed. I recently also had the opportunity to join the Condor Matrix team. Condor Matrix is the document management system where we revise GMP documents.
It’s really cool that you’re so involved! Are there any talents that you had before coming into this job and that you use on a daily basis? Have you improved upon any of your skills while working here?
Apart from office systems, not really. You won’t have the skill set required for a permanent position before coming to this internship. So, while you can use your computer skills, interpersonal skills and your social skills, you’ll learn a lot of the skills you need while you’re working. It’s really great because I feel like most line managers that this is a learning experience and they push you to develop yourself even further.
So, do you think your line manager noticed an area where you were struggling and then said: “Okay I’m going to push you to grow”?
It’s more like: “You’re interested in something, so let's go and learn more about it.” I took a lot of courses about products developed by Roche for illnesses in areas like oncology … but I also took some classes in Patent Law.
Yes! and I think that’s a really interesting part of the internship. You get to know different departments, even if it’s not a part of your daily business at all, you have the chance to go there and talk to people or go to a class and learn new things. While I’ve been here I’ve tried to get in touch with a lot of people from different departments and have quick sessions where I also invited other interns so that they could come along to see what other people are doing. That’s so cool!
I know you’ve said that you graduated this year, but if you were to go back and study, do you think there is anything you’ve learned here that you could use in your studies?
I think just the overall perspective would help. You know what information is really needed. I mean, when you study it’s clear that: “Yes, this cell has this and that enzyme,” and it might not seem important, but after this internship you begin to see a bigger picture of exactly what you can do with the knowledge gained. With this new point of view you can narrow down your focus onto things you’re interested in. You know where you want to go during your studies and so you shift your focus towards a more specific book or other classes.
Any advice for someone brand new at Roche? Any tips or tricks?
Don’t get overwhelmed! I know it’s a lot, but you can easily get into the swing of things after two or three weeks, and then the fear goes away. Just don’t get overwhelmed!
How do you feel about Roche as an employer?
I think Roche is a great employer. Like I said, Roche cares about your development and about your ideas, and overall I think it’s a great place to work. Roche has a lot to offer, especially to interns. There is a communal apartment in Basel, and there are lots of different events, and also the intern network is really great. The atmosphere is wonderful; your co-workers are easily approachable and your contribution is valued, even though there are thousands of people working here, you don’t feel like just a number.
Thank you so much for your time!
Interested in learning more about the RiKO Program? Click here for more information.
Yes, I did an internship at the zoo in Zurich. It was just a short summer internship, so this is really my first work experience in the Pharma industry.