Closing My Chapter at Arranta Bio

Jasmine Lees

Biology Student, University of St Andrews

HR/CSR Intern at Arranta Bio

As I come to the endpoint of my virtual internship this summer, I still struggle to comprehend how the last 10 weeks have passed so swiftly. Although my internship was the antithesis of boring and unengaging, I was unaware of how rapidly this summer would pass me by. However, they say that all good things must come to an end, and hence I’m here to share my post-internship reflections and appreciation.

But before that, I’d like to first provide a little insight into myself and my internship. I’m Jasmine Lees; an upcoming 4th-year Biology student at the University of St. Andrews. This summer, I interned at Arranta Bio – a contract development and manufacturing organisation (CDMO) based in Watertown, Massachusetts, that develops and manufactures cutting-edge therapies for diseases including, but not limited to, Alzheimer’s, IBS/IBD, and various cancers. Their work truly changes the lives of people who are afflicted by these conditions, so it was an honour and a privilege to be given this internship opportunity at such an influential and impactful company.

Particularly in the post-COVID era, virtual internships are becoming more common. However, their value is often misrepresented or disregarded, and frequently labeled as "less valuable" than a traditional, in-person internship. I’d like to debunk that myth, as my virtual internship at Arranta Bio this year has been one of the most insightful, rewarding, and enriching experiences of my academic career.

Every day I looked forward to working on my projects and connecting with other interns and my colleagues. Furthermore, despite the geographical and time discrepancies, my supervisors made their friendliness and support available day and night. These experiences allowed me to understand the structure of Arranta Bio as a company, and to engage with the company in the same way as an in-person internship, all from the comfort of my home workspace.

My internship at Arranta Bio was my first opportunity to explore the real-life CDMO industry. As the HR/CSR intern, my primary project this summer was to create, distribute, and analyse the annual employee satisfaction survey at both Arranta Bio and Vibalogics, another CDMO founded in Germany, with its North American site based in nearby Boxborough, Massachusetts. Although I had conducted surveys before as part of my extracurricular activities at University, I had never created one this large, nor collected responses from so many people, all with diverse and thought-provoking insights to explore.

I thoroughly researched different survey platforms to find the optimal service, which alongside my design skills, allowed me to build a user-friendly and engaging survey. Hence, I learned how to use my initiative to create an accessible, convenient survey, and how to concisely communicate the survey on a company-wide scale. Combined, this led to a 90% survey participation rate; an achievement I'm extremely proud of. Furthermore, I learned how to analyse the survey response data, allowing me to curate a clear, informative, and engaging presentation that was well-received by my peers, supervisors, and the leaders at Arranta Bio, including the CEO.

Ultimately, the data collected from the survey will be used to apply and develop improvements across the entire company. It’s refreshing and exhilarating to know that my hard work and dedication to my internship will make a significant, lasting impact on a real-life CDMO and the clients they cater to.

In addition to the annual survey, I also worked alongside the CSR department to implement and improve sustainability efforts at Arranta Bio. My first real contribution to the CSR department at Arranta Bio was the creation and distribution of an infographic regarding Seeding Labs; a Boston-based non-profit that connects lightly used laboratory equipment and goods to brilliant scientists in under-resourced institutions across the globe. Knowingly saving valuable resources from reaching landfill, whilst simultaneously encouraging cutting-edge science in under-resourced communities, was extremely rewarding to me and was one of the most memorable contributions I made during my internship.

Furthermore, I facilitated discussions between Arranta Bio’s CSR, EHS, and manufacturing departments with Polycarbin; a company that circularises laboratory plastic and produces new laboratory goods using 100% recycled plastics collected from laboratories across North America. This was my first real insight into business discussions in the biotechnology industry. These discussions also provided fascinating information on the scale of the waste generated by the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, which emphasised my passion for sustainability, particularly in STEM.

Working with Polycarbin allowed me to develop and hone my research and pitching skills. Through communicating with their founders and coordinating meetings between our teams, we were able to establish the most suitable circularisation programs available to Arranta Bio, which are soon to be implemented in a few of the site labs. It’s exciting to know that my efforts have translated into a positive environmental impact for Arranta Bio and the world, by reducing the quantity of plastic waste that reaches the landfill.

Regardless of your background, degree, and area of expertise, I cannot recommend the Saltire Scholars Programme enough. The skill development opportunities available to you as a scholar, attainable via the internship itself and through the incredible workshops conducted throughout the summer, will remain a part of your skillset for life. Additionally, you’ll be incredibly well-prepared and feel more confident in any role or industry you apply yourself to. But most of all, you’ll make incredible connections and will network with inspiring and empowering people from across the globe. Like me, you’ll find yourself wishing you could rewind time and repeat the experience all over again.

Written by: Jasmine Lees
IMG 2292