This week, we introduce you to Rocio Maciel Gomez. She has done her MSc.Eng in Chemical and Biochemical Engineering from Technical University of Denmark in 2020. Before that she was a graduate of BSc in Biotechnology from Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona. During her university years, she has been to multiple countries and universities as an exchange student as well, thus have a very good understanding of international cultures.
She is currently working within the Graduate Program at Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies, and will be working there for the next 2 years. Already during her university years, she has gathered multiple experience through different internships and jobs. Some of the notable companies that she has worked in include Intugreen, Carlsberg, NTNU and CEAMSA. Hence, she had a very good understanding of the real world applications and tasks, already as a student. Hence, as a graduate, she didn't only possess the core theoretical knowledge, but also vast practical knowledge of her field.
Many graduates tend to be confused on what a graduate programme entails and what to expect. Therefore, we were lucky to have an interview with Rocio, who is currently working in this role. Therefore, do take this opportunity and read about her current experience and her plans to get a good understanding of the graduate programme.
How was the workload of your degree? What did you spend most time on?
I do not feel the workload was too high compared with the time I had to spent in my BSc.
I guess the difference is coming on the education and teaching system of both countries (Denmark and Spain) which are completely different. While in Spain the learning methods are more oriented into an individual development including memorize and many hours of study, here in Denmark the courses are more focused on assignments and group projects prioritizing multidisciplinary tasks and the combination of profiles from different backgrounds.
Was there a lot of chemistry in your curriculum?
Not really. As my background was in Biotechnology, I took an education path more focused on Industrial Process and the Optimization of them which it did not include a lot of chemistry.
You did your BSc. in Biotechnology and then later your MSc in Biochemical Engineering. It is generally believed biotechnology is not very mathematical extensive, whereas chemical and biochemical engineering is quite mathematical focused. Did you feel the same way? How was the transition from one to the other?
Yes, it is true that during the Bachelor I got the basics in terms of maths and modeling but I could still feel the transition into a more “technical and mathematical” learning when I jumped from Biotech to Engineering.
In my case it was really beneficial to have the chance to study hand to hand with people with an engineering background as well as the flexibility and open study structure offered by DTU. The programme really allowed me to introduce some extra engineering concepts combining my biotech knowledge with some process and mathematical operations.
What topics did you find the most difficult during your degree?
I would say that all the courses which include programming language and/or coding were the most difficult from my point of view. It was really challenging and hard for me to be able to create and understand mathematical models to simulate different chemical/biochemical process.
What line did you choose to focus during your degree? What does it include and why this specific line?
During my whole education including both BSc and MSc I tried to focus my career and background on Biochemical Process and the Biotech Industry. That includes the study, analysis, design, and optimization of biochemical process involving all the industrial technologies rooted in biology and living organisms (mammalian cells, bacteria, yeast and other microorganisms). Development and scaling-up of such processes to successful industrial production is the foremost aim of my line of study.
Did you get your degree from your home country or did you go abroad? if yes, from where to where? How did you do it?
I am originally from Spain, but I moved to Denmark to do the MSc Degree. Once here I also took an exchange at SDC (Sino-Danish Center) where I had the amazing opportunity to spend one full semester in Beijing.
Did you have student jobs during or between your education? How did you get them? Where did you work? How did it help your education or future career?
During my education time here in Denmark I had different student jobs all of them in restaurants or cafes downtown. As foreigner these kinds of jobs were really helpful to self-finance my studies and my life abroad.
Apart from that, during my whole education I had several opportunities through grants or even unpaid offers to work in several research groups both in Academia or the industry all around the world from Spain until France or Norway as well as here in Denmark. All these opportunities turned into a technical and personal development and growth, which was a big boost for my future career and job search after my degree.
Roci is currently working at the Graduate Program at Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies. Read her answers below to learn more about her current position.
What was your first job after graduation?
My first job was into a Food Company in my hometown which I got through a grant from my University BSc Degree.
Which industry and at what role are you working right now?
I have been working in the Pharmaceutical Industry for 3 months. I am part of the 2 years Graduate Programme at Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnology.
You are currently in a Graduate Programme. Many students have great confusion about what this program exactly is. Could you tell a little about what exactly is a graduate program? Is one a "full-time" employee or is it sort of another student type position?
A Graduate Programme is a fix-term entry level full time position offered exclusively to recent graduates into a specif field. The programme offers rotations in different positions and departments of the company where we have the opportunity to get hands-on and grow our experience in different areas building an overall and complete understanding of the company organization and structure. It includes on-going trainings for each role that we develop and the exposure to a big range of operational tasks.
In my case the Graduate Programme is structured in 3 rotations: 2 of them in 2 different departments into the Manufacturing Area which includes on-hands activities of the process working on the floor and a third rotation into the Documentation Team where working in the office we give daily support to the production.
As general all the Graduates are designed as a fast-tracked career pathway to consolidate professional development and networking opportunities by a multitask and large committed full-time position.
At your job, what is your daily work routine like?
I am right now taking my first rotation on the Documentation Department, where together with my colleagues we give daily support to the process in order to successfully reach the expected results and costumers demands assuring compliance on the day by day of the production process.
What are the typical tasks which you have to deal with?
I am involved in different task from different departments including review of documentation, brainstorming of improvements and/or ideas to optimize the process, mapping and alignment of different production steps, etc... All of them aim for give as a complete and overall idea of the production process.
What hard and soft skills are the most important for your job?
Hard skills: Bioprocess, Pharmaceutical Design, GMP and/or fundamental understanding of Cell Culture and Purification Process.
Soft Skills: Ability to gather and synthesise information from many sources, team-working and communication, critical thinking and adaptability.
What is the best thing about your job?
Being part of a Graduate Programme I think it is a great opportunity as recent graduate to fast-track our development in the industry. The best thing about it is to have the chance to be continuously learning by performing multiple roles in a company. Through the different positions we can strongly develop our technical profile growing our skills and gaining experience in different aspect which give a fast, full and overall idea of the industry we are working on.
Which topics from your degree do you use the most on the workplace?
Bioprocess & Pharmaceutical Design, GMP and Microbiological cultures and Recovery Process.
What are you future plans for your career?
The Programme I am currently in lasts for 2 years. My plan for the future is to continue on the company performing a particular role where I could exploit to the maximum all the concepts and internal knowledge I will get in these 2 years being highly valuable for the company.
Any suggestions for future graduates? Something they should be doing while they are still in university getting their degree.
My suggestion for future graduates will be to enjoy each single topic and ocassion trying to guide their future career to the areas they like the most. Be open to all the opportunities and be tolerant learning from other backgrounds, fields and cultures in order to enrich their personal and technical profiles would be my biggest advice to them.
What skills should they focus on during university years? Communication and tolerance, as well as a result oriented and self confident attitude.