Student Placement - Amgen

Shiv Makadia - Amgen

After completing the first year of my maths course at the University of Bath, I was compelled to do a placement year after hearing about how much more you learn and progress through extended work experience, than university alone. At first, I had no affinity to any of the many industries on offer to a mathematics student, but fortunately one industry stood out in particular- mathematics and statistics related with programming, all packaged in something that would not only be of benefit to myself, but also be a contribution to the help of millions of people’s lives’. It was clear the pharmaceutical industry was most suited to my skills and interests.

Before starting my placement, some claimed that you learn more in a year of work experience than a year of university, which after 15+ hours of lectures a week, that seemed hard to believe… at first. At the starting months I spent most of my time adjusting to the working life and building the foundation for my year at Amgen.


Learning the basics of SAS programming (the industry standard for data analytics), how the business operates synergistically with all the many functions, and what the standard procedures and workflows are, for a heavily regulated industry. These ideas were continuously built upon and reinforced as I began to start working on real projects. My primary focus throughout the year was on survival analysis and regression in the context of oncology trials. The project I enjoyed most was one were I was using meta-analytic and regression techniques to predict a treatment effect for an endpoint on a trial, given another endpoint. I also had the opportunity to implement R Shiny applications for a variety of projects. In general, using R and SAS to solve real problems was a great and enjoyable experience, no matter the project, as it often changes the way you think, promoting creativity and structure.

Through Amgen, I got involved in the Get Real project, where I performed part of a literature review and attended a full day meeting in Holborn with global experts in pragmatic trials and Real-World Evidence, to take the official meeting minutes and notes. This also became the theme of a poster I presented at an internal conference.

I had the opportunity to be as part of PSI in the CALC committee. Here I was part of the school’s sub-team, where I was involved in outreach and creating resources for school visits. As part of this, I got the chance to help at the Bucks Skills Show, the PSI Medical Statistics Careers Event and the University of Reading, where our sub-team organised and ran a medical statistics experience day for school students.

Some of the small perks were having a full fry-up every Friday morning- beans, hash browns, sausages and mushrooms all available at the canteen. There was also weekly 5-a-side football at the AstroTurf pitch at the back of the office as part of the business park. The office environment was great, with all your colleagues friendly and always there to help, chat and even complete a jigsaw puzzle every now and again. Some of the most memorable times were those larger events hosted by Amgen, like the murder mystery dinner boat ride, the winter ball, paddle boarding and the various team meals throughout the year.

Would I recommend taking a placement year in the pharmaceutical industry? Certainly. Even if you are unsure of what you may be interested in, the beauty of a placement is that you don’t necessarily need to know. If statistics and programming are of interest, then this is something you should seriously consider. By the end of the year you will have developed professionally, statistically, and have a vast range of general skills that you can apply anywhere in the future.

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