Vacation work diaries: interning at Napp Pharmaceuticals

Francesca James, a third year Chemical Engineer, shares her story from interning at Napp Pharmaceuticals – and reveals how you can get involved in their Student Innovation Challenge

Seeing the business side of pharma

During the summer after second year I interned at Napp Pharmaceuticals, a company based in the Cambridge Science Park that manufactures and brings to market a variety of medicines. The pharmaceutical industry is one of the biggest employers of chemical engineers since the manufacture of drugs requires the knowledge we learn throughout the degree, so during second year I decided to look for some work experience that would give me an insight into this industry. I chose Napp because I was interested in seeing the ‘business side’ to drug manufacture as well as the engineering side.

Drawn to teamwork

While working there I shadowed employees from most of the different teams within the company, including marketing, human resources, medical information and sales analysis. I found it really useful to be able to experience so many different aspects of the company and see how they all fitted together – seeing the interaction between all the different teams made me realise I would prefer a job that requires communication and teamwork like this, rather than solitary work.

the company really promoted innovative thinking and new ideas

Napp is based at Cambridge Science Park

Establishing a challenge

One of the meetings I attended was focused on ‘Medical Innovation’ – it was a space to discuss any new important or interesting developments in medical science. The aim was to make sure Napp are always up to speed on the ever-changing industry and to try to develop innovative ways of thinking in order to tackle business challenges. It was after this meeting that I asked if the company had much interaction with the University, and put forward the idea that, since as students we are always developing our problem-solving skills, that some sort of problem solving ‘challenge’ could be beneficial to both the company and the students. I suggested the idea to the Head of Commercial Excellence, who I was shadowing at the time, and we then had a discussion about the practicalities of it: who, what, when etc. I found it easy to bring this suggestion up with the people I was working for because everyone was so friendly and welcoming, and the company really promoted innovative thinking and new ideas.

Putting your ideas forward

My advice for students who come up with a new idea on an internship and want to explore it further would be to have confidence in your suggestion, and to choose the appropriate person to speak to about it, meaning someone who would see the benefit of your idea.

A glimpse inside Napp

Using the CS

The Careers Service was useful when I was researching which roles chemical engineers can go into, and what previous students had said they liked about working for pharmaceutical companies. Also, the CVs & Applications Book is great.

About the Napp Student Challenge

In the summer of 2020 Napp Pharmaceuticals are opening their doors exclusively to students from the University of Cambridge for their innovation challenge. Working in a small team, with support from industry experts, you will have two weeks dedicated to developing innovative solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing the pharmaceutical industry. At the end of the two-week challenge, your team will present their ideas to senior leaders in the business. Each team and candidate will receive extensive feedback from their mentors throughout.

If you’re up for the challenge, Napp wants to hear from you. The Innovation Challenge will run between 21 September to 2 October 2020 and is open to individuals and teams (of up to 5 people). Learn more and apply at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe By Email

Get every new post delivered right to your inbox.

This form is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Skip to toolbar