PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 September, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 September, 2005, 12:00am

A twice-monthly column about learning on the job

IF GRADUATION IS not too far off and you are tempted by the world of pharmaceuticals, you may want to look into opportunities at a pace-setting business with a rock-solid reputation.

A research-based, multinational health-care company that, according to Fortune Magazine, is one of the world's most admired companies, has been running an internship programme since 2003.

The Pfizer Corporation's Hong Kong office is responsible for the sales, distribution and promotion of the company's products in the territory, in addition to serving as its Asia regional headquarters and logistics centre.

According to Debbie Chong, Pfizer's associate manager - human resources, the objective of its internship programme is to contribute to the local community.

Termed the health-care ambassador programme, it is open to fresh graduates and runs for a period of four to five months.

Although applicants are not required to have had any work experience, they should have a sound academic background.

'This does not have to be in science, as we have taken on successful students from business schools, the social sciences and engineering, and we even had one who studied building construction,' Ms Chong said.

'What is important is your attitude - candidates have to be very positive, willing to take up challenges and eager to learn [as this] determines whether they are willing to contribute to our company.'

After a fairly challenging application process, new health-care ambassadors divide their time between training and hands-on work exposure.

'We provide them with training in communication, presentation and leadership skills, and with key product knowledge. We also take them on field trips, so they can meet with our clients,' Ms Chong said.

'At the same time, they have a chance to work with different colleagues on business management projects ... and, as their title implies, provide an education to the public.'

The programme not only affords fresh graduates the chance to develop new skills, it gives them the opportunity to learn about the workings of the world's biggest pharmaceutical company.

On completion of the programme, health-care ambassadors are evaluated and the successful ones are invited to join Pfizer when openings arise.

This really is a nurturing ground for students,' Ms Chong said. 'Since 2003 almost all our intake has stayed with us - they have learned so much, developed different skills and want to stay.'

WHERE: Pfizer

WHO GOES? Bright young sparks

HOW MANY OPENINGS? Two graduates each year

HOW MUCH TIME DO I HAVE TO GIVE UP? Five months, full-time