By Juan C. Castano
One of the most important events at ISPE is Annual Meeting. This year it took place in San Diego. There were ten fortunate students representing the NC State University ISPE Student Chapter. After preparing for weeks, we took the lead and started a three day journey full of networking, educational sessions and student events where we met other fellow Student Members. In this report I will briefly touch on three main points.
Networking Opportunities: Networking was by far my favorite part of this professional trip to San Diego. AM provided me with multiple opportunities to network with professionals holding a wide range of positions. AM featured an exhibition that included more than a hundred vendors, this allowed me to move from booth to booth and meet new people and learn about what they do and the company they represented. In addition, there were multiple education sessions, which out of two that I attended allowed me to meet speakers from various companies including Merck, J&J, Novartis, Genentech, etc., and other members attending the session. Finally, there were a few social events, which I found to be the easiest way to network because everyone was just having a fun and relaxing time. I had a chance to play ping pong and network with a group of three engineers from the Novo Nordisk branch in Denmark. I came back from the networking events with a stack of business cards that I have continued to use.
Educational Workshops: There were multiple education sessions. I attended two sessions: Profitability through Sustainable Design; and Driving Improvement for Bioprocessing Operations. The first was mostly related to the green idea and the economics of running a company in a sustainable environment as well as designing companies to use energy more efficiently, and utilize environmentally friendly resources. The second session focused on the re-structuring and organization of a Merck pilot lab to increase its throughput and efficiency. Both sessions had technical terminology; however, any of us coming from a science and biotech background were able to pick up most of the concepts quickly. These sessions were very informative and allowed members to stay up to date with innovation and current events in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries.
Student Luncheon and Orientation: Lastly, all of the students attending this conference participated in a student luncheon and orientation. This event took place at the beginning of AM. This orientation was a great opportunity to meet fellow students from all over the country and other nations, and to get a chance to meet the ISPE mentors and start the networking journey. Lunch was very good. In addition, this event even had a mock interview followed by a dynamic discussion which pointed out a lot of good recommendations and tips for future interviews.
As a student, I would definitely recommend and encourage future Student Members to attend AM. This unique event will immerse you in a professional, but fun environment where you will expand your networking, enhance your knowledge of the industry, and get a head start as a young professional.