Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Day in the Life of an LGO Intern

The majority of the LGO class of 2012 is one month into the six-month internship that partly defines the program. This is a long enough period to have fallen into a routine and short enough that we are still able to look at things from an outsider’s perspective (it is also short enough that I'm not yet disillusioned, and long enough that I incorrectly think I know what I'm talking about). So, that's the frame of mind from which this post is coming. What follows is a description of a typical day in my first month at Amgen in Thousand Oaks, CA. Enjoy.

6:20 AM – The alarm goes off. For about 20 seconds, I have no idea where I am (why does it take so long to adjust to a new place?). I look out the window and see the omnipresent morning fog. Ah, yes. Malibu. Where else would I be? (When you think of MIT, you think of Malibu, right? I fit in so well here.)

6:25 AM – I eat my cereal while my four LGO housemates go through their own morning routines in silence. We like each other…just not at this hour. Occasionally, we grunt a good morning, or maybe it's just a grunt for grunting's sake.

6:45 AM – We distribute ourselves between two cars for the 35-minute drive to Thousand Oaks.
The drive includes an 800-ft descent over the course of a mile down our road, a short cruise along the Pacific Coast Highway, a stretch over a mountain pass with sheer drop-offs a few feet from the shoulder, and a race along “The” 101, an eight-lane highway. Conversation is kept to a minimum while we cycle through three static-y NPR stations to catch fragments of the news.

7:25 AM – I enter my building – a relic from Amgen’s more modest days – and walk three feet past the building receptionist’s desk to my desk. This is not an exaggeration. I literally sit next to the receptionist in the building foyer. My hope is that being relegated to this seat is the result of some kind of hiring frenzy that has taken away all of the usual intern spots, and not a
reflection of Amgen's opinion of my potential. Regardless, it has allowed me to fine-tune my greeting and secretarial skills. And all that gossip...

8:00 AM – 12:00 PM – I pick up where I left off on my internship project. Currently, I am mapping out the process development and manufacturing processes, along with the equipment used and data collected, for the four departments across four sites that work with Amgen’s drug product. The goal is to identify gaps between these areas and then come up with strategies for closing these gaps. So far, there seems to be a decent mix of engineering (assessing manufacturing processes and the design and function of the equipment) and management (developing business processes that include strategic and economic components).

12:00-12:30(ish) – Lunch. Amgen’s campus is part corporate headquarters, part country club, part sculpture garden. It has roughly one decorative fountain per employee. In short, it is amazing, and so we try to take advantage of this by eating lunch outside every day. The weather tends to cooperate -- I don't think there's been an afternoon in Thousand Oaks without a cloudless sky.

12:30-5:15 PM – I try to finish up my work for the day. There are occasional meetings with my boss or his boss, or with one of the project’s many stakeholders, but I mostly just sit at my desk and read/type for eight hours. This part of the project is not exactly riveting (I sometimes resort to memorizing the nutritional facts on my snack food or looking for additional flaws in the headshot on my Amgen badge just to break up the monotony), but I know that the excitement of using this information in strategic and awesome ways awaits me in the near future.

4:00 PM – We hit the "AmGym" (get it: Amgen + Gym = AmGym!!) for our daily workout. The place is incredible for an onsite company gym -- two stories, tons of weights and machines, yoga, pilates, and spinning classes, and free fresh fruit. We've actually all been pretty dedicated to working out thus far and are getting really beefed up as a result. Okay, I'm still as scrawny as ever and have to hide in a dark corner of the gym when using the 10-lb dumbbells, but I'm still enjoying it!

5:15 PM - We reassemble at the cars for the trip home. The afternoon car ride conversations are typically a little lighter and more relaxed. After all, we made it through another tough day at the office.

6:00-8:00 PM – Arriving home, we disperse into the evening for the next part of our routines. This includes running, surfing, climbing, eating, or just plain relaxing (this is what you're apparently supposed to do in California).

8:00-10:00 PM – Having finished dinner, we clean ourselves up, lament the end of another day, play a couple of games of backgammon (really), and go to sleep, dreaming sweet dreams of the adventures tomorrow's edition of the daily routine will surely bring.


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