Where can a graduate degree from the University of Illinois take you? In this monthly series, we catch up with one recent Graduate College alum and ask the question: "Where are they now?".
Madeline Meyer graduated from the University of Illinois Professional Science Master's Program in December 2014 with a master’s degree in Food Science and Human Nutrition. Now, she works for Becton, Dickinson and Company (BD) as a Regulatory Affairs Associate where she supports domestic life cycle management initiatives for the Infection Prevention business unit, including performing regulatory assessments and submitting new drug application supplements to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
What was the transition from graduate school to a professional career like for you? What surprised you about it?
One thing that surprised me when starting my professional career is how unpredictable each workday can be. You can start the day off with an agenda of items that you plan to accomplish during the day, but rarely does the day ever go as planned. Having the ability to adapt to changing priorities and respond to issues that arise throughout the day is a very important skill.
What is the most interesting, rewarding, and/or challenging aspect of your job?
As part of my job, I have the opportunity to work with cross-functional teams, which I find very rewarding. Each cross-functional team member looks at the project from a different perspective, so it is interesting to see how all of the cross-functional input comes together when identifying next steps for a project or assessing risks. Another aspect of my job that I enjoy (which also happens to be one of the most challenging aspects) is the evolving regulatory landscape. There are always new guidances and regulations to become familiar with, and it is always fascinating to see the differences in regulations across various countries.
What has been the most valuable skill you gained from graduate school?
Time management. It is crucial to be able to evaluate priorities and work effectively in the workplace. There are days when there are multiple high priority items that need to be completed, and time management skills are essential in order to finish work efficiently. I believe that being involved in multiple activities while in graduate school (whether that be a job, club sport, volunteering opportunity, etc.) helps develop these skills and apply them in the workplace.
What experiences made an impact on your career choices?
My internship prior to my last semester in the Professional Science Master’s Program greatly impacted my career choice. As a Regulatory Affairs Intern at Abbott Vascular, I gained exposure to the medical device industry and regulatory submissions. I really enjoyed learning about the regulatory aspects of the medical device/pharmaceutical industries and working with research and development and other functional areas on various projects.
What do you wish you had known when you started out in your career?
Prior to starting out in my career, I wish I would have known how transferrable skill sets are. When applying for a job, it is important to understand the skill set that is required and how your experiences (even if they are non-work related) make you a suitable candidate for the position. Being able to communicate your value to recruiters and hiring managers is essential to helping land the first job post-graduation.
What is one piece of advice you would give to graduate students at Illinois?
Network and utilize the career resources available on campus. Take advantage of the career fairs and information sessions – even if you are not actively looking for a position or internship, it is never too early to learn about what opportunities are out there and make connections with company representatives. You never know what opportunities exist unless you look!
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This interview is part of the monthly Grad Life series called "Where Are They Now?" which chronicles the career paths of recent Univeristy of Illinois Graduate College alumni. This interview was conducted by Derek Attig. Derek is Assistant Director for Student Outreach in Graduate College Career Development. After earning a PhD in History here at Illinois, Derek worked in nonprofit communications and instructional development before joining the Career Development team. A devotee of libraries and all things peculiar, Derek is currently writing a book about bookmobiles.