Hi Lillas, can you start by giving us a brief introduction to yourself?
Sure! My name is Lillas Healy and I am from Cork. I am 22 years old and just graduated in Microbiology from University College Cork. I moved to Germany at the start of July to work for KPC in Leverkusen.
What made you decide to study science at third level?
I studied Biological and Chemical Sciences at University College Cork which is basically general science until you decide what path you want to go down. This suited me well as I had initially thought that I wanted to do neuroscience but I ended up falling in love with microbiology. I really enjoyed my time in this course as it exposed me to many different fields of science.
What made you want to apply for the Graduate Program at KPC International?
KPC piqued my interest because of the opportunity to live abroad. I am from Cork and studied in Cork so I have always lived at home, I saw this as a great chance to try something new. Besides it being based in Germany this is an amazing work opportunity straight out of college. Validation is a lot of troubleshooting and you get to see a lot of ins and outs of the industry.
How have you found relocating to a new country?
Relocating is not without its challenges as I don’t speak German but I have enjoyed it. The people here are really friendly and I am grateful that a lot of people speak English. Overall I would say it has been good.
Can you tell us a bit more about your role with KPC International?
I was hired as a Sample Engineer for the KPC Graduate Program. I work in a team with 6 other people in the Graduate Program and we carry out Purified Water, Clean Steam, and Water for Injection sampling. Along with taking water samples we have also help with small equipment IOQ and writing up SOPs which I enjoy because it allows us to become familiar with the equipment.
Can you walk us through a typical day in your role?
We start work roughly at 6 am or 7 am which I really like as I feel like I get to make the most of my day. We start by taking water samples, which can take up to 2 hours. Usually, after that, we prepare the trolley for the next day of sampling. When the trolleys are stocked up we begin paperwork, this includes sample tracking for results and a diary of how we took the samples and anything that might have happened out of the ordinary. After this is completed we usually follow up with SOPs or other equipment validation. Small equipment validation keeps us the busiest at the moment.
What has been the biggest learning experience or the biggest challenge that you have faced so far?
I think overall this has been an invaluable learning experience as this is my first industry job outside of an internship. The hands-on nature of the work has allowed me to work through problems effectively. I think the biggest learning curve for me is in the handling of equipment validation. My degree didn’t really cover this much so it has definitely been interesting for me and I feel like I have learned a lot in the last few weeks.
What has been the most rewarding part of your new role so far?
There was a lot of troubleshooting in the beginning when we were trying to figure out the best way to sample points. I love trying to work through problems and we didn’t have something we could figure out yet.
What advice would you give to graduates who are thinking of applying for a similar role?
I would recommend a position like this to anyone that has an interest in travel as being based in Europe allows for great potential though during Corona time it has been extremely limited. While I only had four days’ notice to move I would recommend trying to get more information on the country or language before going over. I would tell people to not be afraid of taking a chance on something different.
Outside of your working day, how do you spend your time?
I spend a lot of time cycling, I have started cycling 45 mins each way to work. I have been enjoying the rich history of Cologne by visiting the many museums and churches here. As it has been really hot here the last few weeks museum and lakes have been the go-to for me. Last weekend we spent the weekend at Fuhlingen. Other than that depending on how the Pandemic is going, a few more weekend trips around Europe would be nice.
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