Olivia Abrams

Country: United Kingdom
Sector: Pharmaceuticals
Job title: In-House Clinical Research Associate II
Subject of study: Medical Sciences with Professional Training Year
Year of graduation: 2018
Type/Level of study: Undergraduate

Current Employer/Organisation Name

Labcorp Drug Development

What have you been doing since leaving Exeter, and what are you doing now?

After I graduated, I worked in book publishing for 10 months as a Sales Assistant. I quit and made a move back to science in August 2019, when I joined my current company as an In-House Clinical Research Associate I (CRA) and was promoted to In-House CRA II in April 2021. My job involves working with hospitals and NHS Trusts that are running clinical trials for our pharmaceutical clients. I am responsible for monitoring the sites so I speak to them regularly about data queries and work to resolve issues identified during monitoring visits. I also answer any questions they have and ensure the trials are being run in a way that protects the patients and follows the protocol.

Why did you choose this career? And what do you enjoy most about your work?

I did a Managing Clinical Trials module in my final year at Exeter, which I really enjoyed and opened my eyes to the possibilities of working in clinical trials. This module is why I pursued my current career when I realised book publishing wasn’t right for me. It is cliché but my favourite part of my job is knowing that the work I do helps bring treatments to people who need them the most. I also enjoy how varied my workload is.

Please tell us if you were a member of any societies, groups or sports clubs?

I was the treasurer for the Literature Society in my final year and was also a member of the Badminton club.

What did you enjoy most about your programme and what was the biggest highlight?

My favourite part of my degree was having the opportunity to do a placement year. Experiencing working life and having the chance to live in Bristol for a year really helped me figure out my priorities, I came back into my final year feeling refreshed and motivated, and I knew after I graduated that I wanted to look for a job rather than pursue further education.

What did you enjoy most about studying here?

I loved living with my friends. I loved being able to walk everywhere. I loved being near the sea and always having a cute independent cafe to take people to when they visited me. I loved both St Luke’s and Streatham campuses for different reasons: the old beauty and quiet of St Luke’s; and the buzz of Streatham and the Forum. The people and the place made it for me, more than anything else.

Why did you choose to study at Exeter?

The course was really good in the university league tables and every time I visited Exeter, I had a lovely day.

What skills and experiences have been most useful for your career?

My placement year has been massively useful in helping me develop good working practices such as time management, organisation and working under pressure. Being a Treasurer for Lit Soc during my final year helped me with my work-life balance and this is now really important to me in my career. My course was very intense and stressful. Dealing with this helped me find perspective of what really matters to me and now I am a lot better at coping during busy periods at work and judging when to take a break or log off for the day.

What advice would you give to a current student who wishes to pursue your career?

If you have the opportunity to choose it, I would highly recommend the Managing Clinical Trials module run by the Medical School, or maybe a similar module that is available for your course. Otherwise, I’d recommend reading about the CRA job on the Prospects website to get a feel for it, and reaching out to recruiters in the industry via LinkedIn.

What are your plans for the future?

I hope to be promoted to Senior In-House CRA next year, and then move across to the Project Management Academy within my company so I can work my way up to Clinical Project Manager one day.


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