Published: 2022.10.10. (last edited: 2022.10.10.)

“My first experiences working for a pharmaceutical company far exceeded my expectations !” 

My whole life I have been fascinated by processes in nature and in the human body. Studying Biology and Mathematics while spending the majority of my spare time outdoors, I struggled a lot during my early adult life to imagine a motivating job with purpose, while at the same time providing job security and a reliable salary.

Somewhere during my bachelor studies, I discovered my passion for programming and data science and therefore decided to enroll for a Master’s programme in Computational Biology and Bioinformatics at the university ETH Zurich. As part of my studies I had the opportunity to partake in a pharmaceutical industry internship. Being Swiss and having grown up in this beautiful country, Roche was definitely a name which already rang a bell. I had heard many positive comments from various people about the company's innovation prowess and especially its outstanding work culture. However, I could not really imagine what day to day work would look like in such a giant company. Therefore, I was really excited to start a data science internship in the Sciences Section of the formulation and process development department at the Roche main site in Basel for a total of nine months.

Already from the very beginning I was handed a lot of responsibility. I worked on multiple projects in parallel implementing a variety of digital solutions to facilitate development of robust formulations, new manufacturing and drug delivery technologies for commercial production. I could take the lead in developing implementable, customized tools by working closely together with project partners from various groups in my department. Thereby, I could directly see the value of the tools to my colleagues, which I found especially encouraging.


Project contents were highly diverse, ranging from shiny application development to database design and data consolidation, dashboard or visualization generation or predictive modeling and data analysis. 

Coming directly from university it was interesting for me to work in a ‘real environment’ where datasets are not huge and perfect and solutions have to be applicable for diverse people with varying needs and varying levels of domain knowledge. I really appreciated having sufficient time to look into programs and techniques I was not yet familiar with (e.g. google cloud computing, integrated dashboard reporting or web application deployment). Coming from a non-pharmaceutical background, I’ve also learned a lot about production processes, formulation components and measurement techniques.

In my team, I was accepted as a full member from day one. My opinion was always valued in discussions, and interactions were based on respect. Even though I mostly managed the technical parts of my projects on my own, l still had access to a network of expert contacts like statisticians, other data scientists or data science interns, with whom I could consult for help or input. My supervisor P. Piccione and the whole team always had an open ear for problems and took time to help me when I needed assistance. During my time here, I have already met a huge variety of different people, be it in project work, at congresses or meetings or just for lunch, which made it easy to build my own personal network. A further great networking experience was a department wide conference in Strasbourg where I obtained a really good overview of various work areas in my department. 

Moreover, I made use of internal development programs that Roche offers to further develop skills e.g. in programming or writing workshops, first aid and cultural awareness courses, but also intern and networking events. Overall, I’m honestly overwhelmed by the amount of interesting opportunities offered to me during my first six months here at Roche as a data science intern. 

I am really thankful for these incredibly valuable experiences and learnings. I hope to continue to work at Roche for my Master’s thesis where my journey will most likely take me further into pharma research and early development. I’m looking forward to the months to come, to further grow and continue with exciting challenges.