The first time is always the most memorable. This assumption applies to work as well. In between wrapping up my master's degree thesis which I later graduated with a distinction, I secured my first real corporate job at a well-known pharmaceutical giant. I was offered the role of a Clinical Research Associate (CRA). To be honest, I was too green out of college to wrap my head around office politics.


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For sure I knew a little about good clinical practice (GCP) guidelines but I was ill-prepared for what would be a huge challenge ahead. In fact, no amount of studying or street smarts could ever prepare anyone for that kind of office politics. In the supposed first six months of CRA probation, newbie will usually assist senior CRAs in their clinical trials so that one learns the rope quickly to become competent enough to handle a new trial on one's own. In my case however, it was a shockingly rude revelation.

Not only was I not handling a new trial, in fact, the senior CRA who was supposed to guide me conveniently passed over to me her poorly compiled clinical trial so that she could be eligible for an early retirement scheme. In the monitoring phase of any trial, consistency in data collection is of utmost importance so that statisticians could perform a thorough analysis later. Just as I got a hang of work, OMG!, I almost vomited blood on the spot. Crucial data were missing here and there. For example, if a trial requires liver enzymes tests every fortnight, data for patient X will be missing in week 10 then data for patient Y will be missing in week 16. The drug accountability record too was incomplete.


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The first month was pure nightmare. I dreaded waking up every morning. Apart from surviving endless briefings, trainings, online courses and reporting, I had to digest and deal with the mess she created. On the last day before she left the company, she even had the nerve to yell at me then proceeded to cry in front of me due to overwhelming stress. Everyone in the department stared at me as if I was the one in the wrong. It would not have happened if she had put in the required effort in the first place. Her insults mattered less than my ruined professional reputation. On top of that, she got paid like four to five times my entry level pay scale.

The saying that within a corporate structure only thirty percent of employees overcompensate for the slack of the rest of seventy percent of workforce still holds true. Many of my ex-colleagues were clearly overworked and unhappy. They were stuck to their dead end job to pay off study loan. In my country, it's difficult for people of Chinese ancestry to get placements in public universities due to quota based system while it cost nearly a quarter of a million to obtain a pharmacy degree from foreign universities. Most of the time I felt more like attending a funeral rather than going to work. After barely surviving this particular disaster, I can better understand the reason millennials easily slip into depressive downward spiral and contemplate suicide. Baby boomers sucked at both parenting and leadership. Period.

Thank you for reading!


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