WIT’s close ties with industry gives graduates the edge, says Adam


"I thought that going to my local college would put me at a disadvantage to my peers in that I wouldn't get the "full college experience" but I couldn't be more wrong. Within weeks I had settled into my course, made a whole new group of friends and had joined the Kayaking club. Fast forward a year, I was captain of the kayaking club and flying it in my course." Photo: GT Photography

Studies at WIT combined with graduate programme at EirGen contribute to laying the best foundation for Adam’s career as a Microbiologist in the pharma sector

Adam James is a past pupil of De La Salle College, Waterford City. He studied the BSc (Hons) in Molecular Biology with Biopharmaceutical Science at WIT before joining EirGen on its graduate programme.

Time at WIT: 2014-2018

On which WIT campus were you based: Main Campus on the Cork Road

Why did you choose your course? I'm from Waterford and during my final year in secondary school I knew I wanted to do a course in the STEM stream. After a lot of research, I realised that WIT had a fantastic array of courses and a renowned Science department. I decided to apply for the common entry Science degree, that way I could make an informed decision as to what science stream I wanted to pursue. That was how I ended up going down the biology route. I haven't looked back since.

What was your experience? WIT at first was a massive change, I thought that going to my local college would put me at a disadvantage to my peers in that I wouldn't get the "full college experience" but I couldn't be more wrong. Within weeks I had settled into my course, made a whole new group of friends and had joined the Kayaking club. Fast forward a year, I was captain of the kayaking club and flying it in my course.

My lecturers were phenomenal mentors, throughout the entirety of the course it was clear they wanted to help develop each individual in my course into a biologist ready for either the commercial or academic sector. Comparatively to other similar courses in Universities and colleges in other parts of the country my course size was quite small, facilitating easy one-to-one interaction between lecturers and students, a major advantage.

The course content, although challenging, resulted in me learning about all things biology at a rapid, yet in-depth pace. Every element to me as a professional scientist was being developed in each module I undertook.

Can you recall your feeling when finding out you were offered a place in WIT? I was delighted, I remember the day before convincing myself that I wouldn't get in and being bitterly disappointed. That's when I realised how much I wanted to get my course, which was my first choice on the CAO.

What advice would you give to students considering your course? If you want to be given the very best knowledge and skillset, both practically and academically and to become one of the more desirable biology graduates to industry and research bodies alike, pick this course.

If your course included a work placement, what was it like and how has it been of benefit? I entered into the course just before it was updated to include the third year work placement and so I had to seek my own. I didn't have to look too far as in the summer after my third year in WIT I underwent a three-month internship in one of the research centres in WIT. This was of phenomenal benefit to me, I am where I am on the back of the fantastic experience and knowledge I gained form this research internship which set me apart from other job applicants. This was only possible by the relationships I had built with lecturers in WIT's biology department.

When and where was your first job after graduating? I started as a Biopharmaceutical analyst in Eurofins BPT. However, I changed streams to become a Microbiologist.

Where are you currently working? What position do you currently hold? I am a Microbiologist in EirGen Pharma on their new Graduate programme.

How has your studies at WIT helped you to get where you are today? WIT holds close ties with industries in Waterford. If it hadn't been for this and the extensive experience I had gained from WIT I don't think I'd have gotten onto the grad programme, there were over 500 applicants, it was down to my time in WIT that set me apart.

How did your experience at WIT help get you to where you are now? WIT prepared me by giving me an extensive knowledge in this field. I also gained essential practical lab experience in my course. What I also gained by going to WIT however, and it's something that is often overlooked is the people skills I gained by going to a college that puts so much emphasis on social activities. A massive part of my college experience was my time in the WIT kayaking club where I gained skills in teamwork but also in leadership and organisation coming from my year of being the captain (chairperson) of the club.

How did you hear about the Eirgen graduate programme and what attracted you to apply to it? I actually got word of the graduate programme by my final year project supervisor, again this ties into my previous point about WIT having such close ties to local industry, really giving its students the edge in finding employment. This also speaks a lot about EirGen which is very similar to WIT in a sense of its awareness and interaction with the surrounding community. Being a Waterford business it puts emphasis on supporting STEM in WIT and supporting graduates and students from WIT, one of the most surprising things to me upon starting was the amount of alumni who are employed here at all levels.

What do you enjoy about the programme? The programme I feel is giving me the very best foundation for my career as a Microbiologist in the Pharma sector. Here, I am being trained to become a rounded professional in the industry, in the lab I am being trained in a lot of areas as part of my training plan, outside of the lab I am being taught other essential skills in the day-to-day running of the microbiology department by my colleagues and area manager who have years of experience from working in labs across the world. The difference between the programme and starting as an entry level analyst is that as part of the graduate program you have a comprehensive training plan set out for you. This includes targets you have to meet at various time points, as a result you get trained in far more areas in a much shorter time period which ultimately accelerates your career development and progression in whatever stream you set out on.

Was there anything from your studies/college experience that has helped you either get onto the programme or has helped you in your current role? I think it was a little bit of everything I got from the course in WIT; most notably probably the amount of practical experience and knowledge I got. Another key factor to me being successful in getting onto the program was the enthusiasm and drive instilled in me by all of the faculty members of the Science department. The nature of my course also resulted in me becoming a much more driven individual with a much better work ethic and ability to learn than I had going into the course.

Not only did WIT help me develop as a professional but I also developed as an individual.

What is Waterford like as a city for college social life? In one word, fantastic. It's a great place whether you want to go for a swim in Dunmore, go to Tramore for a coffee or just head into town for a few, it's all on your doorstep.

Related Courses

Bachelor of Science in  Science (General)
Bachelor of Science (Honours) in  Molecular Biology with Biopharmaceutical Science

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