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An insider's guide to the ICON plc Graduate Certificate Programme

In September 2013, ICON plc launched its Graduate Certificate Programme - an intensive 12-week long syllabus which enables graduates to gain industry-specific knowledge and training in clinical research. The programme was created following a partnership with University College Dublin (UCD) in November 2012.

It was based on a shared vision dedicated to develop a cadre of highly-skilled clinical inspectors who are equipped with the knowledge, skills and competencies to drive and deliver clinical and translational research on a national/international platform.

The ICON Graduate Certificate Programme (Europe) enables graduates to learn industry-specific knowledge and training, alongside a clinical-based internship, in the UCD Clinical Research Centre at Dublin’s St Vincent’s and Mater Misericordiae University Hospitals.

We spoke to four graduates – Aisling, Justyna, Kirsty and Ruth - who now work across ICON plc in different areas of the business, about their post-programme experiences.

Aisling works as an IPG Co-ordinator for the Investigator Payments Group while Justyna, Kirsty and Ruth work as Clinical Research Associates (CRA). Within their first year of working at ICON, all four received promotions which have seen them gain considerable knowledge, hands on experience and opportunities to expand their horizons. All four agreed that the diverse and ever evolving atmosphere at ICON made them feel challenged, but ready, to learn a lot from other team members.

Ruth said that the practical nature of the course was particularly appealing to her, as it helped her to gain a more accurate insight as to how components of a CRO are put together. Justyna liked the fact that she could see what they had learned be put into practice in a CRO environment and be shown from different perspectives.

All four graduates said that no two days were the same at ICON, with variables such as travel contributing to an ever-changing work landscape. As CRAs, Ruth, Kirsty and Justyna travel across the UK to be on site at various locations and to be present at clinical sites. Kirsty says that she spends two to three days travelling across the UK. Aisling’s work mainly involves her liaising with personnel on different sites, as well as being heavily involved in reading budgets, contracts and general financial administration.

So what advice would our four graduates give to budding Graduate Certificate Programme students?

Ruth recommends that future students should have a rough idea of how they want their career to play out over the next ten years. She believes that it will help students to ‘spot opportunities early on in their careers.’ Kirsty agrees and says that it is important to ‘keep an open mind about career paths’ that prospective students would like to pursue in the clinical research industry.
One piece of advice that all of our graduates shared was to fully embrace the 12-weeks and to ask lots of questions! Justyna says: ‘There are absolutely no wrong ones. You will have an opportunity to talk with experts, so make the most of your time!”

Every year, The ICON Graduate Certificate Programme has two enrolments for prospective students in September and February. For more information and advice on how to apply, click here.
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