Laboratory Apprenticeship
Laboratory Apprenticeship

International Women's Day

Monday, 8 March 2021

International Women's Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Significant activity is witnessed worldwide as groups come together to celebrate women's achievements or rally for women's equality.
To celebrate the occasion, we caught up with Laboratory Apprentice Milena Smokowska who works with Merck in Arklow and attends TU Dublin, Tallaght. We asked Milena a few questions about her experience with the program.

Tell us a bit about yourself and why you chose the Laboratory Apprenticeship?

I am a qualified Dental Nurse, but always wondered about a new career and a dream job for me in the lab. I thought a career change would not be possible as I would need to have a wage to provide for my family while gaining my qualifications. When I heard about the Laboratory Apprenticeship Program, I was slightly skeptical but decided to apply the very same day. Once I learned about the structure of the course, I couldn’t have been happier. Gaining a degree while earning a salary and not compromising on family time couldn’t’ have been more appealing to me

How have you found the practical work experience?

I have learned so much through the practical work experience. While college work provides information on all aspects of work in Pharmaceutical settings, work provides me with mentored hands-on learning and the skills required to perform a wide range of tasks in laboratory settings.

Tell us a bit about the company you are working with.

The company I am working with is Merck in Arklow. Merck is a global science and technology company that aims to solve the toughest problems in the industry by collaborating with the global scientific community. The site in Arklow produces generic Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients and advanced intermediate manufacturing on commercial scale.
My experience while working with Merck has been very positive. From the very first day, I felt welcomed. I have been assigned two fantastic mentors who provided me with comprehensive training and knowledge on practical aspects and safety in the laboratory environment and on the site. Everyone across all departments is very friendly and approachable, always wanting to help and giving time to answer all my questions. I have been given many opportunities to get involved in interesting projects within the Quality Control Department from which I have gained much knowledge. I feel a great sense of achievement and am part of a team. I am delighted with the opportunity to work with such a great company.

In your opinion, what are the main benefits of the apprenticeship?

The apprenticeship has many benefits. Gaining a degree and experience while earning a salary is the most important for me. Whether you choose a two- or three-year course, throughout this time you are gaining valuable experience and confidence, which gives you a huge advantage for future employment.

What are your hopes for your future career?
My main goal in the short term is the continuous development of skills towards expert level with a hope of a future role in leadership.