When asked about his 2018 summer internship, iCons senior Bryan Chua takes out his Shire Pharmaceutical Company water bottle and proudly displays it on the table before describing his many accomplishments.
Chua is a double major in chemical engineering with a dual degree in environmental science on the iCons renewable energy track. He was an intern at Shire Pharmaceutical, a company that focuses on coming up with drugs and treatment plans for rare conditions, such as Hunter Syndrome and Hemophilia, that cannot be accessed at a local pharmacy.
Chua’s project focused on validation engineering; this field tests the systems that develop certain products with the ultimate goal of making machinery more efficient. Chua focused on a 3D risk assessment that analyzed how often certain machinery for drug manufacturing should be updated in order to yield the best possible results. There were three different factors he used: manufacturing stage, complexity, and impact of equipment on the drug itself. All of these factors contribute to the frequency of maintenance on a particular piece of machinery.
However, Chua experienced a learning curve through this internship regarding drug manufacturing. Chua worked closely with different professional fields within and outside of the scientific community. Through this process, Chua collaborated with biologists in order to develop the drugs he was making.
“I thought making drugs would be like making Tylenol, you add A and B to get C. But it actually wasn’t like that,” he said.
Instead of combining ingredients, Chua explained that drug manufacturing is more like cell culturing.
“Cell culture is like raising babies,” he explained, “you are increasing a population of live cells within a healthy ecosystem.”
Chua also credits much of his success in this dynamic field setting to his iCons background.
“Within a huge biopharmaceutical company, despite just being an intern fresh on the job, I learned how to talk with people across different departments and job roles to find out what information and expertise I needed to get my projects done,” he said.
Additionally, Chua worked closely with the business aspect of Shire. At the end of his internship, he presented his findings to financial branches of Shire, and explained why certain manufacturing improvements could be implicated. Communicating scientific data to a population outside of the science community posed challenges, but Chua’s iCons experienced helped him communicate effectively.
“iCons really focuses on communication to non-scientific audiences, so I knew I had to put my project into words they could understand. So I used a lot of informatics and diagrams. I would use factories to represent product and hour glasses to represent time, to show less time producing led to more profit.”
Keeping the audience’s background and business motives in mind while presenting made Chua’s project well understood and a huge success.
Chua’s passions for improving the lives of others extends well beyond his summer internship. During the academic year, Chua is a member of Sustainability Projects Abroad, a registered student organization that travels to third world countries to provide environmentally conscious ways of improving water quality, agriculture, and other aspects of life. “I started the RSO, Sustainability Projects Abroad, to empower students to bring what they learn in class into the outside world”, says Chua.
He has also worked alongside nurse researchers at UMass working to develop a way to sterilize used empty intravenous bags.
And although Chua succeeded at Shire Pharmaceutical, finding this internship was not a simple task. Chua applied to more than 40 internships for the summer, and only heard back from three. From this experience, he not only learned the value of a strong resume, but one that stands out as well.
“Part of that was my fault,” he said, “I thought my resume was perfect. But it could have been considered generic to some jobs.”
For those preparing to apply for summer positions in the upcoming months, Chua suggests applying for niche positions where specific skills could make the resume stand out.
Chua explains, “My advice is to start early and match your resume closely to the job description, because you want to show the company you have the right skills they are looking for.”