The Allegro Programme – An Editorial Assistant’s perspective from Greg Rowe

Greg_RoweMy journey to become an Associate Medical Writer (AMW) for Ashfield Healthcare Communications (AHC) began on 21 November, 2016. I made the move North in pursuit of a career in Healthcare Communications, having spent several years working in roles that had left me feeling either unsatisfied professionally, or bored. It had always been my intention to go into Medical Writing, but after numerous rejections citing ‘a lack of experience’ I felt it wise to get in on the ground floor and work my way up. So it was with great enthusiasm that, having passed the interview and editorial test stages of the recruitment process, I began my new role as an Editorial Assistant (EA) for CircleScience (one of AHC’s agencies).

My time as an EA at AHC was fantastic, and I will always look back on it with great fondness. The team was very open from the outset, the work was challenging yet enjoyable, and I felt like I was part of something that was making a positive contribution to the wider world. I couldn’t believe my luck! I finally felt like I was working in a company where I belonged.

One of the aspects of AHC I valued at the time, and value still, is the eagerness with which you’re encouraged to make the most of yourself; it isn’t a tired corporate cliché to say that AHC really does live by its values. You’re motivated to produce the highest quality work you can, not only for the sake of the company and your clients, but for your own personal development. Curiosity and innovation are embraced, you will always have a strong team of experts to support you, and the commitment and passion displayed by employees of all levels is truly remarkable. It’s within this fertile setting that internal talent is nurtured, and where my route to becoming an AMW began.

It was about 6 months into my new role as an EA that I was offered the opportunity to attend an AMW assessment centre – I should say at this point, I made it clear in my interview that this was my desired career path. However, I rejected this first offer because I wanted to have at least a year’s EA experience under my belt before I would entertain the idea of moving into writing. Perhaps it was a lack of self-confidence, or a desire to arm myself with as many editorial skills as possible before taking the plunge. Probably a mixture of the two. After 9 months I was again asked if I’d like to attend the assessment day, but this time there was a difference: if successful, I would be enrolled on to a brand new programme designed specifically for the comprehensive training of AMWs, called the Allegro Programme. I immediately recognised what a great opportunity it would be and decided to go for it.

When the day of the assessment came around, I don’t mind admitting I was extremely anxious. Job interviews are nerve-racking enough, but when your entire office knows you’re going for the job as well, failure somehow seems even less of an option! The day itself was split into two group exercises, a 1-hour writing test and a competency-based interview, all designed to test your suitability for the role. However, I felt I had done the necessary preparation and so decided to treat the day as, if nothing else, a learning experience.

A couple of days later I got the news that I had been hoping for: I’d made it on to the Allegro programme! I was elated! Of course, I was sad at the prospect of leaving my friends behind in CircleScience, but the opportunity to be on the first ever bespoke AMW training course was too great to turn down.

So here I am. At the time of writing we are just finishing the second week of the programme, and to say the time has flown by would be a huge understatement. The course itself is packed with practical information regarding the industry, the makeup of the company and, of course, medical writing.

The programme has three main components.

  • Lectures on a wide range of topics (such as time management, medical statistics, grammar and punctuation, regulatory and compliance processes and quality control)
  • Practical sessions for us to demonstrate our progress (last week’s practical was to write a presentation on the effective use of branding when engaging with customers)
  • Free study time

The programme itself is split into three sequential segments – 8 weeks of training, then two 5-month rotations in different agencies. So far it has been quite intense and there’s a clear expectation that we will need to work hard to reach our full potential…but then, when isn’t this the case? Our trainers have all taken the greatest pains to ensure we understand the content being delivered, and it’s obvious to see the passion they have for their respective fields.

And anyway, it isn’t all work! There’s an emphasis on extra-curricular initiatives, such as Ashfield Cares, and the group I enrolled with are all really sociable and keen to get to know one another better outside of work settings. I feel tremendously fortunate to have had this opportunity and I look forward to seeing what the future brings!

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[Find out more about the Allegro programme]

[Find out more about Ashfield Healthcare Communications]

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