We Are Randox | Christopher McNally climbs the career leader from Placement to PhD
The name Christopher McNally may be one that you already recognise. In 2016 he earned 1st place in the Science category of the Randox Pinnacle Placement Awards, having caught the attention of Senior Management for his pioneering work developing a new diagnostic for pancreatic cancer.
Fast-forward two years and Christopher is now back at Randox as a PhD student, conducting research in prostate cancer as part of the recently-announced Randox-Ulster University PhD Academy.
We sat down with Chris to hear all about his revolutionary prostate cancer project, what motivated him to sign up to our PhD Academy and what it’s like to be back in the place where his scientific career began.
Here’s Chris’ story.
I came into Randox when I was just 19 years old for my third year at university as part of the company’s year-long placement programme. It was a great way to truly experience a working laboratory outside of the classroom and really cemented my desire to work in biomedical science.
I was lucky enough to be placed in the company’s Donegal branch, Randox Teoranta, which is close to where I grew up in Gartan, and offered me the opportunity to carry out ground-breaking medical research surrounded by my home of Donegal.
I would highly recommend the opportunity to perform an industrial placement to anyone. It helps you to prepare for what comes after university, develops your skills in the area in which you are interested, and refines your laboratory techniques. I was delighted to hear I won in the Science Category of the Randox Pinnacle Placement Awards during my time there as well, and this really inspired a confidence in me that I had become a talented scientist even before I graduated.
When I completed my fourth year of studies at Ulster University, I graduated with a degree in Biomedical Science and Professional Practice, and returned to work for Randox. The traits and qualities I learned during my placement had subsequently brought me to post-graduate employment, and I was thrilled. I was lucky enough to be able to walk straight back into the lab knowing exactly what to do and how to do it.
Despite becoming employed within Randox straight out of university however, I had this feeling that I was not finished with regards to academic study. I knew I wanted to do more, to perform more research. So, when I heard about the Randox-Ulster University PhD Academy I really was intrigued. It was the perfect platform to further my studies and be able to give more to the scientific community.
When choosing the area of research for my PhD I was keen to hear more about a collaborative prostate cancer project led by two of Northern Ireland’s leading cancer researchers Dr Mark Ruddock (Randox) and Dr Declan McKenna (Ulster University). From my time at university and my time spent at Randox, I thought I could bring my experience and knowledge in cancer research into this project, so I thought, let’s go for it.
Ultimately, the project involves looking at prostate cancer patients as well as patients who have other non-serious prostate conditions, and recognising any potential differences in the two. We can then develop a clinical diagnostic test that can identify the men at the highest risk of prostate cancer and stratify the patients accordingly.
The earlier we can do this, the quicker a patient can be treated, or not treated as the case may be. Overdiagnosis is a significant problem in prostate cancer care and many men, who do not have prostate cancer, but present with prostate cancer-like symptoms, unfortunately go through invasive, uncomfortable and most importantly, unnecessary procedures.
This work therefore has real potential to improve the management of prostate cancer, which is currently the most common cancer in males within the UK. It’s a very rewarding field to be working in and I thoroughly enjoy the work I’m doing knowing that it will have a real-life impact on many men. I’m very proud to be able to say that my PhD research will really make a difference and I now know for certain that I will continue working in cancer research after my project is complete.
Knowing that I’m helping to improve the quality of patient’s lives brings a great deal of satisfaction that few jobs can replicate and I’m excited to see what the next three years will bring.
We’re very proud of Christopher and the amazing work he is doing in prostate cancer research, and are delighted that he has made the decision to join the Randox-Ulster University PhD Academy.
For more We Are Randox stories about our amazing colleagues, make sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and follow the hashtag #WeAreRandox.
For current vacancies in our team, visit careers.randox.com
To find out more about the Randox-Ulster University PhD Academy, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Here at Randox, we’re proud of the talented and innovative teams we have at all our sites. One of our talented engineers at Randox Teoranta recently won a prize for his final year university project in collaboration with Randox. John Fitzgerald, an Electronic Design Engineer, was presented with two awards from Ulster University on Thursday 7th December 2017 – the Civica Prize for excellence in his final project and the Institute of Engineering Technology Prize for achieving the highest grades in his class.
We caught up with John to hear all about it;
A very well done on your awards, John! Tell us about your final project for which you won the Civica Prize.
Firstly it is important to note that my final year project was conducted in conjunction with Randox Teoranta. Without the support, resources and encouragement from the exceptional Research & Development Engineering team here in Dungloe, my project would not have been such a success.
My final year project centred on the design of an industry-standard compact dry bath incubator, designed for the heating and cooling of small volume samples. With a simple and compact design, broad and precise temperature range, the intended use of the product was for bench-top laboratory incubations. The design also incorporated innovative, yet modest, capacitive touch pad controls and a digital display to provide confident temperature selection and accuracy.
This design project required design capabilities in three core engineering disciplines, electronic, embedded and mechanical engineering.
Were you surprised to learn you’d won an award for the project?
Yes, definitely! I was surprised when I received an email at the end of November, informing me that I was to receive the award. I can recall the quality of projects that were on show so this was a complete surprise to me.
I invested a great effort in this project and I’m proud of the personal and academic goals I’ve attained, however, the works achieved would not have been possible without the generous investment of advice from various different sources. I wish to take this opportunity to express my genuine appreciation and thanks to them all.
Thank you to Randox – the industrial knowledge and resources they provided for this wrk added significantly to the quality and relevance of my project to the real world. A special word of thanks, too, should also be afforded to my final year supervisor in Ulster University for the consistent academic support he delivered throughout the course of this MEng final year project.
Did you always want to be an engineer?
To be perfectly honest, the answer to this question is no. I was very uncertain for a long time what career I wanted to pursue as a secondary school student. I was never really exposed to the engineering profession and the wide variety of career paths it can lead to so engineering wasn’t something I immediately thought of when I was thinking of careers I would enjoy.
My father has a lot to answer for though – he was a tool-maker by trade and he instilled a significant interest in engineering and basic electronics in me, and is probably one of the primary reasons I felt a career in electronic engineering was the correct path for me. I decided to apply for my university placement year at Randox Teoranta in the Electronic Engineering team.
After just a few months in to my placement at Randox Teoranta, I knew I had made the correct career choice. I was Randox Teoranta R&D Engineering’s first university placement student, and that I could live at home in Donegal for the year and still receive a first class industrial experience.
How did you find your placement year at Randox?
My placement experience at Randox Teoranta was first class. I was afforded every opportunity to develop and grow my engineering skills. As my competency grew, so did my responsibilities and the complexity of jobs afforded to me.
The team of engineers in Randox Teoranta are exceptional professionals and provided excellent guidance to me as a young student engineer. The work I was tasked with was challenging and relevant and a considerable amount of the work I contributed to, remains in some form in the final Misano analyser that is manufactured today in Dungloe.
I cannot stress enough how important my placement year at Randox Teoranta was for me upon returning for my final two years of university. It provided me with a clear career path and I discovered a passion for Printed Circuit Board Design that I would not have been exposed to, if it were not for this placement.
I was extremely grateful to be offered a graduate position during my placement year on completion of my degree. This security made my final two years at university much more comfortable and also allowed me to discuss with the company the potential to complete my final year project in conjunction with Randox Teoranta. The opportunity to continue my learning and professional development as part of such a progressive and diverse engineering environment was an easy decision to make. As an added bonus, I am able to live at home, in the most beautiful part of the country and engage in an extremely rewarding and challenging profession in my field of study all at the same time. I consider myself very fortunate.
Tell us what a typical day is like in your role as Electronic Engineer.
One of the reasons I enjoy being an Electronic Engineer with Randox Teoranta to such a high degree, is the same reason that makes this question quite difficult to answer.
It is hard to categorise a typical day in my role as an Electronic Engineer in Randox Teoranta. I spend my time on a wide variety of duties or tasks depending on the design needs of the engineering team. I could be spending my time designing circuit schematics for new PCB designs, I could be producing the printed circuit board layout of designed circuit schematics, I could be testing new sensors, electronic parts or manufactured PCB’s to verify their performance, I could be engaging in verification and validation work for a new analyser, I could be engaging in the formation of critical design reports, the list can go on and on.
As the cliché goes, “every day is different”, something which is definitely applicable in this scenario.
What advice would you give to young people considering visiting the Randox Teoranta open day on Fri 22nd December?
I would encourage any young person with a remote interest in a career in Science or Engineering to attend the open day on Fri 22nd December. I believe they will be surprised as to the wide variety of professions and opportunities available at their doorstep.
A conversation with an experienced professional could ignite a spark which could provide clarity as to what they would like to pursue in further education, and in turn professionally. This is an opportunity I wish I was afforded as a young person growing up in rural Donegal, and I consider it an opportunity not to be missed for young people with a genuine interest in these exciting professional fields.
From all the staff at Randox, congratulations to John on this fantastic achievement. We look forward to seeing the pioneering engineering work you will continue to be part of in the future.
The Randox Teoranta Open Morning is on Friday 22nd December 2017 from 10am – 2pm at Randox Teoranta, Meenmore, Dungloe, Co. Donegal.
To find out more tel: +353 7495 22600 or email: email@example.com
Pictured with John Fitzgerald (centre) is Dr. Robert McMurray, course director for MEng Engineering at Ulster University (left), and Angela Canavan, Managing Director of Civica who was present to award the Civica prize (right).
Rory McCloskey (21) from Antrim was a gold medal winner at the UK National finals in Birmingham. He was competing with over 500 apprentices, exponents of 55 disciplines – as diverse as Aircraft Maintenance to 3D Game Design, Cabinet Making, Plumbing to Beauty Therapy and Cyber Security.
Rory was recognised for his expertise in Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Milling which involves programming, setting and running a modern CNC milling machine to accurately produce a component in a given timeframe.
His journey to the national finals started earlier this year with local College competitions. From here, he progressed through the regional heats and national semi-finals where he finished in the top six in the UK to qualify for the National Worldskills UK 2017 finals which were held in Birmingham from 16 – 18 November.
Rory is a Higher Level Apprentice and works in the engineering department of Randox Laboratories. As a Foundation Degree student at the College’s Ballymena campus, he was trained on state-of-the-art CNC engineering machinery and taught how to program and operate machines such as Mazek, DMG Mori and Doonson, equipment used in modern manufacturing companies throughout Northern Ireland. The College provides education and training in this technology to a wide range of companies, including Ryobi Aluminium Cating, Linamar Montupet, Hutchinson Engineering, Randox Laboratories, McAuley Engineering.
Congratulating Rory on his success, Professor Terri Scott, Chief Executive of Northern Regional College said:
“The award is a great credit to Rory and all the engineering staff at the College and is just reward for all Rory’s hard work and dedication.
“The College has a proud and prestigious tradition of education and training in the field of engineering and I am delighted to see that our provision continues to deliver a consistently high standard.”
Dr Peter FitzGerald, Founder and Managing Director of Randox Laboratories, commented;
“We are incredibly proud of Rory and what he has achieved at the National Worldskills UK 2017 finals. Our apprentices from both the Northern and Southern Regional College are such talented individuals and so we are delighted to be able to offer them the opportunity to carry out ground-breaking research and development with us as they grow and develop in their careers.
“And the apprenticeship scheme is highly valued by the company – just as our students benefit from the time they spend with us, so too do we as a modern and innovative healthcare firm benefit from the fresh perspectives and forward-thinking ideas these students bring to Randox.
“Passionate and hard-working people like Rory make Randox what it is today. We’re extremely grateful for his contributions to the engineering team here and equally proud of his achievements. Congratulations Rory.”
Northern Regional College was well represented at the National Worldskills UK finals. Rory was one of seven students from the College’s Ballymena, Coleraine and Newtownabbey campuses to qualify for the final stage of the competition.
The other College finalists were: Dean Boyle, who was rewarded a bronze medal in CNC Milling; Matthew McLaughlin, who was highly commended in Graphic Design; Ryan Moon and Richard Woods (Mechatronics); James McCaughey (IT Software); Patrick McCloskey (Carpentry).
For further information about Rory’s award or to find our more about our apprenticeship programme please email firstname.lastname@example.org
The cream of students employers were last night celebrated at a prestigious awards ceremony at the Belfast Harbour Commissioners Office, to pay recognition to the companies across Northern Ireland that go above and beyond to provide high calibre placement and job opportunities for University students.
With over 155 companies nominated, including PWC and BBC, the competition for the top Placement Employer in Northern Ireland was fierce. We are extremely pleased to announce that Randox came in as one of the top 3 finalists for Ulster University’s Top Placement Employer of the Year, in the ‘nominated by an Ulster University Student’ category.
We caught up with Human Resources Officer, Jolene Jamison, who manages the Placement and Graduate Programme, about what it is that makes the placement experience at Randox so unique.
The Randox Placement Programme, by Human Resources Officer, Jolene Jamison
An in-depth induction
For students the Randox placement journey, from beginning to end, is the perfect transition from university life to the workplace.
When they arrive, the induction process is an important first step in easing students into what is for many, their first professional job. It gives students an overview of the company, the company’s products and services, the ethos of the organisation, the responsibilities of their job role, the placement support on offer and the processes in place for feedback and evaluation. The induction process also gives students an insight into the valuable contribution they can make to Randox and subsequently global health, by showcasing examples of previous placement students’ work.
Students also have the opportunity to meet with other employees and students across the company to develop an understanding of the wider Randox organisation. Each induction is tailored dependent on the role to be fulfilled, in order to help the student to gain an understanding of where they personally fit within the organisation, and so they experience a mix of presentations, seminars, interactive sessions and shadowing a supervisor, to gain insight into the responsibilities of their department.
We also make a preliminary assessment of each student’s capabilities in order to identify training and development needs throughout the duration of their placement.
A Supportive Environment
During placements with us our students are each supported by a dedicated placement co-ordinator and mentor, and meet with them every 3 months for review.
At an initial review students outline the skills gained from their degree, identify their career goals, and agree a plan of action with their mentor. This ensures their skills are utilised during their placement, provides focus and direction and helps them on their chosen career path.
For each upcoming review period, each student’s strengths and any challenges they have encountered are identified, with new objectives set as part of an on-going review. This helps highlight any training and development needs, enabling the placement co-ordinator to implement a training plan.
The placement co-ordinator at Randox is responsible for the pastoral support of each student, and additionally, students are often paired off with a colleague in their department who helps with day-to-day support.
All Randox student placements are financially supported; they receive an employment package similar to full-time employees including paid holidays and flexible working hours.
Helping students discover their goals and objectives
At Randox we are aware of the important contribution we can make in shaping a student’s professional career, which is why placement opportunities are offered to even those in their first year of university studies, through the Randox APEX Programme.
Students are encouraged to discuss their long term career goals with their placement mentor and manager, and are encouraged to pursue their own areas of interest.
Students are often involved in novel research projects, encouraging individual thinking, ideas generation and strong confidence in their ability. These novel research projects encourage placement students to get involved in the core company projects and voice their thoughts and ideas. Working in such an environment can give placement students the opportunity to develop professional expertise in specialist areas.
The opportunity to make a real contribution
This year we were awarded with our Placement Employer Award specifically for the placement we provided for Business Student Meghan Sample.
Meghan made real contributions to Randox during her time here, and was involved in presenting a digital content marketing strategy to Marketing Management. This included strict guidelines to ensure consistency through all graphics, language used and tone of voice. She then implemented this content marketing strategy via mail-campaigns, social platforms, web pages, insightful clinical market articles and whitepapers.
The results of Meghan’s digital content marketing strategy helped her and her team understand her value and the value of her work to the organisation. Online engagement increased by a staggering 1,200%, web traffic by 256.91% and by quarter 3 of 2016, 100% of Randox RX Series sales to distributors and end-users originated from Meghan’s digital marketing campaign.
This not only gave Meghan a focus for her studies upon her return to university but a real understanding of how academic learning is put in to practice in the working world. This project enabled her to find her passion and decide what area of work she wanted to pursue.
Letting students know that they’re doing well
We really value that students require support and encouragement and therefore we celebrate their achievements at a Student Placement Awards Ceremony, in which exceptional students who have worked hard, made outstanding contributions to the company, and excelled in general during their placement year are formally recognised. This furthermore instils pride and self-esteem in the students that will encourage the continuation of their hard work and determination.
Meghan Semple joined Team Randox in September 2015 as a Marketing Placement student from Ulster University Business School, and left Randox as our Business Placement Student of the Year 2015-2016, an accolade that recognised her achievements and contributions to the company.
An exceptional experience
The placement student experience is second to none. During their Randox placement, students are given the opportunity to be involved in ground breaking research and development, often working with pioneering technologies that are exported globally.
Being entrusted to work individually on personal projects of such high calibre means that students can set and achieve impressive goals, instilling a strong sense of professional pride early in each student’s career.
Being given their own tasks and responsibilities integrates students into the Randox workforce, performing duties of equal importance to graduate, part-time, full-time, new, and long-serving members of staff alike.
For the duration of their placements, placement students are as involved in the running of Randox as any other member of staff and their contributions make a real difference.
Students are offered exposure to staff at varying levels and are involved in presentations to Management. They are offered the same opportunities as any other member of their team, as the fresh ideas and perspectives of Ulster University students are hugely beneficial and valued by Randox. Many Randox students are offered full-time jobs upon completion of their degree, which shows the importance of Randox placements as a springboard into exciting and enjoyable careers.”
For more information about the Impact Excellence Awards, please contact email@example.com
This week we were invited to chat with Glenny Crymble, who works in the purchasing and finance department here in Randox headquarters in Crumlin. Glenny, who came to us last year as a placement student, is now employed by Randox on a part time basis as she works towards her final year studying business studies at Ulster University.
“I first joined Randox in September 2015 when I was looking for a placement opportunity as part of my degree. I heard of Randox through my University and I was able to apply through our careers’ website. It was quite hard to find a placement that was related to what I was studying so I was thrilled when I got an interview for Randox. It’s rare to get such a great opportunity to work within an international company, especially within the diagnostics industry. I know that a lot of my friends were unable to secure a placement which is such a shame because it really gives you a great insight into the working world and is a wonderful opportunity to learn and develop.
“I was a little nervous when I started because it was all quite new to me but I settled in pretty soon. I was originally supposed to be working in the logistics department but I was moved to purchasing which I was really pleased with as this is really where my interests lie. Before I started I was given some training so I was comfortable with what was expected of me. On a day to day basis I was sourcing suppliers, placing orders, putting on invoices, paying invoices, doing stocktakes, forming quotations and responding to email queries and questions.
“I know within some placement opportunities you are mainly shadowing people, but at Randox it’s been really hands on which I have loved and you really get the experience. There is also the opportunity to travel if that interests you. I was offered the opportunity to do a little work in Manchester and other colleagues worked at times in Poland, Korea, India and the USA.
“Purchasing was quite a fast paced environment to be working in especially with the opening of the new state-of-the-art Randox Science Park in the former Massereene Barracks. There were floods of orders coming in from the labs which involved a lot of hard work and great teamwork but it was such a good experience and I really learnt a lot from the people around me. Everybody was really helpful and friendly from the moment I started.
“Now I’m working in the finance department. There is a great atmosphere – everyone gets along with one another and we all have a good sense of humour. It’s an open plan office with lots of windows the whole way around so when I first started they told me they call it the fish bowl office as everyone looks in at us which was quite funny. I am really enjoying it so far and now that I have had experience working in the two different departments I know I prefer the finance side of things. I think it get it from my dad as he’s an accountant and a lot of my family work in finance. My main tasks include working on financial statements, evaluating assets and grant work which involves putting in claims for R&D projects.
“Currently I’m deciding whether or not I want to undertake my accountancy exams to become a chartered accountant. The team have really encouraged me to do so as they have such high aspirations for me so I feel more confident in myself and my manager helped me a lot with my placement report.
“I was delighted when Randox asked me to stay on a part-time basis as an Account Executive after my placement year was up- it was a great surprise. I work two days a week now and Randox are really flexible if there is a day that I can’t work due to university commitments.
“I think my placement year helped confirm that I prefer working in finance and helped me pick my optional modules for final year. I picked accountancy modules including financial sector accountancy and total quality management because I knew from working at Randox that I would enjoy these the most. I think if I hadn’t have got a placement I would have been unsure which avenue of work to go down. My placement also really helped me with my dissertation in terms of financial terminology, balance sheets and financial statements. It was based on the Tesco accountancy scandal which was very interesting.
“I would definitely recommend Randox to other placement students, it’s a great place to work. They also have a graduate program for people who have only just graduated. It is rotational, so if like me, you are unsure which avenue you want to pursue, it allows you to work within the different departments to see which you enjoy the most.
“Each year they hold an awards ceremony for placement students, with the top three placement students from each discipline including science, engineering and business being rewarded for their outstanding contributions. I was lucky enough to be one of the nominees last year. It’s great that the company recognises the work that placement students do and you feel a sense of pride working for Randox.
“Once I graduate in June I am going to continue to work with Randox full time so I am excited to start my career. It’s been a great learning curve, I feel that I have become more confident and I hope that I can continue to learn and develop with Randox throughout my career.”
If you are interested in joining our global team make sure that you check out Randox careers website to see what new opportunities we have for you.
At Randox we take pride in the high calibre of placement students we have as part of our team.
Not only do our students develop their business knowledge and acumen while they work here, they also grow personally during their year with us.
The acquisition of skills including time management, problem-solving and professional conduct goes hand-in-hand with the development of confidence, self-esteem and assertiveness.
And just as our students benefit from their times spent with us, so too do we as a modern and innovative healthcare company benefit from the fresh perspectives and forward-thinking ideas our students bring to Randox.
These students make real and valued contributions to our global organisation, and no one seems to demonstrate this better than our Business Placement Student of the Year 2015-2016, Meghan Semple.
Meghan joined Team Randox in September 2015 as a Marketing Placement Student from Ulster University Business School.
Fast forward just over a year, and Meghan has received a Highly Commended Marketing Award from The Ulster University Business School, at the Excellence in Placement Awards, as recognition of the contributions she has made to Randox!
Speaking at the Excellence in Placement Awards, she explained why.
“When I joined Randox last year I was appointed a Marketing role in the RX Series, which are Randox’s range of clinical chemistry analysers.
“For the first few weeks in my new role I spent time getting to know the brand, and making sure to gain an in-depth understanding of its key communication channels and messages.
“The RX Series was already present online in the form of a website, social media platforms, and through various mail campaigns. However, I identified the company’s potential for higher engagement and better recognition as a leading technology brand, by conducting some competitor analysis and thoroughly researching our own perception amongst our target audience.
“This resulted in an opportunity to present a content marketing strategy to Marketing Management. This included strict guidelines to ensure consistency through all graphics, language used and tone of voice. I also managed the implementation of this content marketing strategy via mail-campaigns, social platforms, web pages, insightful clinical market articles and whitepapers.
“In November 2015 my strategy was implemented, increasing online engagement by a staggering 1,200%. We also increased our web traffic by 256.91%. By quarter 3 of 2016, 100% of RX sales to distributors and end-users came from my Digital Marketing campaign.
“My work within the RX Series holistically changed the face of the brand, and for my efforts I was awarded the Pinnacle Business Placement Student of the Year award from Randox.”
Eamon Lenehan, Global Marketing Manager from Randox, commented;
“The effect Meghan had on the RX Series business is extremely impressive given the short time she was with us. Her input in to our online presence cannot be underestimated and her dedication to increasing our band awareness has had a considerable impact on the Randox brand.
Our digital presence has never been stronger, and that is thanks to Meghan. Her creation of creative and original content as well as her collaboration across all channels has truly injected a new lease of life in to the RX Series and subsequently in to the Randox brand as a whole.”
We are extremely grateful to Meghan for all her hard work during her placement year at Randox and are equally proud of her achievements at the Ulster University Business School Excellence in Placement Awards.
The positive changes seen throughout the company are testament to the value of student placements and we are proud to be a key student employer within Northern Ireland. In fact, this year, we had our largest ever intake on our placement and graduate programmes, with 71 new team members having started work with us in September.
And it’s easy to see why so many students and graduates choose to come to Randox.
“There is only so much you can learn within the walls of your university classroom. What’s most important is putting that knowledge and learning in to practice in a work environment. When I started Randox I had 2 years of university studies under my belt, but I still hadn’t decided what area of marketing I wanted to go into.
“From working in Randox I have found my passion. The team there were so supportive – their trust and encouragement is what enabled me to get so involved in the company’s digital marketing activities.
“With their guidance I was truly able to make a huge impact within the RX Series brand and I felt as much a part of the team as the full-time members of staff.
“I would highly recommend taking a placement year with Randox. There is no better way to learn how a global organisation operates than to work in one, and I am confident that my time there will help me secure a full-time job when I graduate. If I could do my year with Randox all over again, then I would!”
Congratulations Meghan, we’re delighted to have been able to join you at your awards ceremony yesterday!
For more information about the Excellence in Placement Awards, or about placement opportunities at Randox, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Make sure to follow Randox on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to stay up-to-date with the hashtag #WeAreRandox for more stories about the amazing team we have here!
Pictured at the Ulster University Business School Excellence in Placement Awards are;
(L-R) Randox Global Marketing Manager Eamon Lenehan, Randox Business Placement Student of the Year Meghan Semple and Randox Human Resources Officer Jolene Jamison.
Every year Randox offers university students exciting placements with an innovative and rapidly growing company.
These placements are specifically designed to unlock the potential of high quality candidates and provide them with the opportunity to truly make a difference to our business and our customers, and with the opportunity to gain the needed experience to pursue a career in their chosen fields.
Ross Meikle took the time to tell us all about his placement year working within the I.T. department here at Randox.
If you’re interested in a placement year with us, read on!
Hi Ross, what are you currently studying at University?
I am currently studying Computer Games Development at University of Ulster Magee.
Why did you choose to go down this career path/what attracted you to engineering?
During the first and second year of my degree I decided that Game Development wasn’t for me, and I had a much more keen interest in the Software Development modules that I had been taking. I have always been interested in computing and technology. To be in a position where I am using new technologies to design and develop software solutions appealed to me most.
How did you first hear about Randox?
I found the Randox placement through the University’s Placement searching tool, which then led to my application. After applying I contacted Randox to enquire further about the position and obtained an interview.
Why did you choose to carry out your placement year with Randox?
The description of the role given to me at my initial interview really appealed to me and the fact that I already had a little experience using some of the tools that the development use was encouraging. I was familiar with Visual Studio, and had completed one module using the programming language C# – which is the main language that the team here use. During the interview the Project Manager asked me a few technical questions and asked me to do a little coding which I felt very comfortable doing. He also talked to me about the language they use here at Randox and gave me a broad overview of what my responsibilities would entail. After leaving my interview for the placement position, I felt very positive about the whole experience and felt like I wanted to be a part of the team.
How have you found the experience so far?
My placement experience at Randox has been excellent. I completed my initial year of placement and then I was extended for an additional three months afterwards so that I could work right up until I went back to University. I am very happy that the company were prepared to continue my employment and allow me to develop my skills further. Since then I have also been brought back to do my final year project alongside Randox. I have made many friends during my time here, and I have learned significantly more during my placement than I have in any University year.
Have you been working in a supportive environment?
I have been working with the IT Software Development team during my placement. When I started the department was named Acusera 247. There isn’t a single person in this department that hasn’t helped me in some way or another, including the operations team. My team leader has always been able to provide the answer to any issue or question I have had along the way and provided those answers in an informative way that helped me to learn. My Project Manager has also supported me by providing me with all the opportunities I have had throughout my time here, including the final year project I am currently undertaking.
What do your main duties include? Have you been given much responsibility?
After the initial training phase and once I had become more settled within the team, I was made to feel like an equal and capable full time member of staff. I was working alongside other full time developers of varied experience, developing projects that were important and under tight time constraints. I was also tasked with completing a Security Project for the company’s IT department. For this I had to create an Outlook Security Add in which the IT security officer Craig requested. The add in requires all company communication mediums to be given a security level which would ensure that only users with the required access level could read emails or access the files. I have been given a lot of responsibility throughout my placement and it has definitely made me a much more capable and confident person.
What do you enjoy doing the most?
I think the highlight for me during my placement was the Web Development that I did alongside the team in the last quarter of my placement. I was working on Acusera Verify alongside the other developers to a strict deadline. I was given a list of bugs which had been identified in the website and I had to identify the issue in the code and fix it. This process was very rewarding and it made me more confident knowing that my manager/team leader trusted me to be able to provide what was asked.
Have you been met with any challenges? How have you overcame them?
When I started my placement I felt that my coding ability was not what it should be, and I felt that I would struggle whenever the work became more complicated. What I found however was that being tasked with complicated work was the best way for me to learn. It encouraged me to learn fast and it encouraged me greatly to communicate with my team and improve my understanding. I was also challenged initially with the individual assignment I was given, the Security Application for IT. It was challenging, but through hard work and a supportive and extremely knowledgeable team behind me, it became more than achievable.
How has your placement experience with Randox compare to that of your friends who have also had a placement year in engineering?
The two friends that I lived with in my first and second years in University had very different paths than myself during their placement year. One of them was unable to achieve a placement and he ended up walking away from his degree. The other enrolled on the Erasmus program and did his placement in another University in Finland. Other people that I know have been placed with companies and have had both good and bad experiences. I feel very privileged to have had my placement with Randox and comparatively I seem to have gained a lot more from it than quite a number of others.
How has Randox worked with you to ensure that you are still able to work part time at Randox since finishing your placement?
My Project Manager has assisted me in contacting the right people within the company in order to propose the project and get it started. I wrote up a Project Initialization Document which detailed the design, drawbacks, benefits and costs of the project and it was reviewed by my superiors. I was recently sent a full offer pack and given all the information I required, along with a Staff identity/Clock Card to access the building. I have also been provided with a company computer and submitted a purchase order for the components I need for the project.
What you have learnt/skills you have developed from your placement?
What have you been working on recently?
Since I returned as a part time employee, I have been working on the project I am using as my final year project, but I can’t give away too much detail on that yet.
Have you seen the Science Park? What was your first impression?
When I returned as a part time employee I was in the Randox Science Park and that is where I am located now. It is a significant change from where I was previously and I am both impressed by it and very comfortable here. The working environment that we have now feels much more professional. We have ready access to facilities we didn’t have before including dedicated storage areas, a build room for the connects and access to meeting rooms with interactive technologies – it really is a first class facility. I am sure it has and will continue to improve the quality of the work produced here.
What was the highlight of your placement year with Randox? Do you have a favourite memory?
There have been a lot of great experiences throughout my placement year, but the memory that stands out most was my last day. The team set up a lunch for me and all said their goodbyes. My Project Manager then gave me a conditional Job offer which is what I had wanted most all along. It summarised the year for me and ended things on a very positive note.
We are delighted that Ross enjoyed his placement with Randox and we wish him the best of luck for his upcoming dissertation project!
For more information on our student placement or graduate programme please contact Randox HR team or check out our website Randox Careers.
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