Joining the Allegro programme
Originally from Derby, I completed my BSc in Biomedical Science in Manchester. Upon completion of my exams, I made the (somewhat clichéd) choice to go travelling for a while before my graduation, after which my course friend asked me “Have you decided on what you want to do yet?”. To this I had to reply honestly that I hadn’t, though I knew that the laboratory work that the university had geared us up for wasn’t for me. It turned out that she had gotten a job as an Associate Medical Writer, so I began looking into the role and the industry as a whole. It seemed as though it could provide the perfect combination of my scientific background and my desire to work in an office (and hopefully travel too), so I applied.
When I interviewed for Ashfield, I was only 21. The assessment day was not as scary as I had anticipated and when I found out that I had been successful, I got in touch with two of the girls that I had met on the day and we all moved in together. We were three of the first ever intake of allegro, starting in January 2018.
During the allegro programme
The format of the programme is as follows: two months of training in a ‘classroom’ environment, followed by two rotations within the business, each lasting for five months. The training phase covers all of the basics that you could need; when I joined I didn’t know my congresses from my standalones, my MSLs from my HCPs, or what anyone’s role was within the business. This structure means that you have a supported environment in which you receive in-depth, one-to-one feedback on the kinds of projects that you’ll work on once in an agency.
Looking back, I’m so thankful for having joined a scheme that includes agency rotations, as it allows you to get a feel for the kind of work that you enjoy the most and a broader range of experiences than you would perhaps get otherwise. The benefit of working for a larger company, like Ashfield, is that there is definitely an agency/team/account for everyone. I completed one rotation in Zoetic Science on a publications account and one in CircleScience on a medical affairs account (educational materials mostly), with a move to the Manchester office when it opened in October 2018.
What did I like the most about allegro?
When first joining the programme, the nicest part was that all fifteen of us in my intake got on really well, so it was a lovely environment to come into as a new face in the business. I also really liked that the career progression is very clear and attainable, with clear goals and milestones. The breadth of experience and network that you create by moving around over the year have really helped me since completing the programme too.
My biggest piece of advice for people joining allegro?
I actually have two, so I’m going to cheat and tell you both:
- Comments on your work are NOT criticism. Do not take red pen to heart. I think that if you come straight from academia it is hard to not see comments as a bad thing, but just learn from them and there will be fewer next time.
- Take all of the experience you can get. If your mentor (you have one during each rotation) tells you to have a crack at leading a kick-off call, prepare well and do it. You are supported and you’ll be surprised at how much it helps you.
One last thing…
If you want a career in Med Comms, be prepared for a deadline-driven day job that isn’t always 9-to-5; however, there is a lot of variety and many opportunities.