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Could you be ICON's next CRA? Yes, and here's how

Navigating the world of graduate schemes and positions can be daunting, especially if you’re not quite sure of the role or company you want to align yourself with. At ICON, we recognise what a significant life step this is, and we endeavour to ensure graduates are equipped with all the information they need to make their decision.

Clinical research in the UK has boomed over the last few decades but 2019 was a record-breaking year that saw an equivalent of 2,383 participants involved in a clinical trial each day. But what is it like to be involved in this work and more importantly how do you land a job?

Tim Williamson, a Melbourne-based Senior CRA with a laboratory research background, spoke to us about his role and why graduates should consider joining the company to kick-start their career in the life sciences sector.

I began my career working in academic laboratory-based research, but always knew I’d move into a more commercial field when the time was right.

I took up a position working in the clinical trials section of an oncology department at a major local hospital, which provided exposure to working with sponsor companies and CROs (such as ICON). This contact allowed me to move into the CRO industry, and I haven’t looked back.

Why should graduates consider becoming CRAs?

I’m a science graduate myself, and I think the CRA role gives graduates the best of both worlds - working in a professional corporate environment while still having a strong connection with science. Demand for qualified and experienced CRAs is high, so graduates who follow this path have the potential for a brilliant career trajectory. Additionally, graduates have the chance to turn scientific ideas from the lab into new market drugs.

 It’s also worth considering the state of the current market and to look ahead to the future. The clinical trials market is forecasted to experience a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.05% between 2020 to 2025. Though this is only a prediction and the annual growth could be affected by many external factors, the future of clinical research looks bright.

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What are the career progression opportunities like?

Graduates who enter the life sciences industry, particularly within CROs and in CRA roles, have plenty of opportunities to progress. Within the CRA field, there are senior and lead roles which offer increased responsibilities (and salaries) while there is also the opportunity to move into project management and line management.

ICON’s global scope means that there’s the opportunity to work in other countries around the world. ICON has a presence in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific and the Americas, so those graduates with wanderlust could eventually apply their skills in a number of different places internationally.

Here’s an overview of some exciting science-based careers in clinical research.

What degree do graduates need to work as a CRA at ICON?

Graduates ideally need to have some kind of science, bio-medical, nursing or pharmacy degree to be considered for the role of a CRA. Learn more about our international CRA Graduate Programme.

What should graduates do to set themselves up for career success?

Never underestimate the importance of networking. Undergraduates don’t need to wait until they’re looking at graduate schemes to start building a valuable pool of contacts – they can do this throughout their studies. I also think it’s important to be fearless when it comes to asking for advice and guidance. Perseverance is key, particularly when it comes to sniffing out entry-level positions in your chosen field.

With remote hiring on the rise, now is the perfect time to brush up on your digital interviewing skills.

How can graduates make themselves more attractive to ICON recruiters?

My advice to future graduates is simple: do your research. Learn as much as you can about the clinical research industry, the CRO world and ICON - particularly before you get to any interview stages in your application– and your career options in clinical research. If you can, speak to a CRA about what their day-to-day tasks and challenges are. Then take what you’ve learnt and think about how your skills and qualities align with the CRA role. You’ll need to demonstrate flexibility, attention to detail, interpersonal skills, public speaking, time and task management, medical and scientific literacy, and an ability to be a team player. If you’re enthusiastic and willing to learn, you’ll be much more attractive to ICON employers.

Why choose ICON?

ICON’s supportive management structure and productive and friendly working environment make for an excellent company. This is complemented by teams filled with talented and driven people, plus a really attractive salary package. What's more, ICON is growing as a company globally, and graduates can take advantage of this to really propel their careers.

We want to be the partner of choice in drug development. We’re driven by this vision and looking for talented professionals to share it with. If you’d like to join the team at ICON take a look at our clinical research jobs.

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