With one week left at Boston, I am trying to tie up loose ends and complete my work. My two technical reports for the coating project are still in limbo awaiting approval; I am hoping that this will occur on Monday. The delay is largely due to scheduling conflicts because everyone has their own work that must come first which I completely understand. In this respect, I am continually reminded of the resources that Boston has invested in us. For starters, just getting us set up in their computer systems was an undertaking as well as granting us access to various documents for our projects. Then there were the training modules. While my boss only assigned a fraction of the total to me, they were still quite extensive. And although dry at times, I learned a lot about the inner workings of a medical company, processes and quality checks, and workplace dynamics as well. Next, Boston invested time and effort before we even arrived in selecting projects for us and assigning us to various divisions. This allowed us to hit the ground running on day one without having to wait for work to drop into our laps. Additionally, Boston provided facilities for our labor including offices, food during working hours, the clean rooms for us to understand manufacturing, and labs to test our projects. But the greatest thing that Boston has invested in us is the time and effort of Boston employees. My coworkers have been enduringly patient with me as I ask them question after question. They have been happy to help me in any way including explaining their jobs, reviewing my work, guiding me in my projects, finding new work for me, inviting me to lunch, and so much more. Boston truly has invested so much in me and in my future and I am grateful beyond words.
On a less sentimental note, this week has been a whirlwind of meetings ranging from project checkpoints to learning about various divisions of Boston. This week alone, I learned about: manufacturing by talking with a manager and visiting the floor with my boss, validations, regulatory affairs, clinical trial procedures, and design changes. All of these were very interesting, but I want to highlight two. First, regulatory was fascinating because it was a different perspective. I usually see things from the engineering perspective that says, “Why does this take so long? I needed that yesterday,” when dealing with regulatory affairs approval. But J graciously explained the other side of the coin. Regulatory affairs ensures patient safety and acts as the advocates for the patients. While everyone else perpetually holds this in the back of their minds, regulatory works to prove patient safety through testing and engineering logic. But the tricky part is that every country has different standards that are constantly changing. While Country A may be fine with no testing, Country B requires X, Y, and Z testing. And this is strange because last month Country B didn’t care about testing X and rejecting testing Y. Understanding this perspective is vital for my future dealings with regulatory affairs so that I can give them sufficient time and information as we work together to launch the product or change. The second meeting that was especially notable for me this week was with A, the manufacturing manager. She explained her day-to-day duties and then gave me the opportunity to ask some more personal questions about work and being a woman in the workplace. She explained that being a woman in the workplace was of no concern as long as I believe in myself and don’t limit myself consciously or unconsciously because I am female. That is usually not a problem for me, but it is good advice that I will remember. She also said something that I will never forget when I asked her about work-life balance: “My work-life balance does not depend on my job, it depends on me.” Thus, it is up to me to maintain a healthy work-life balance. If I become consumed by my job, it is not my employer’s fault but mine. This is an important concept for me as I enter into the working world.
Another important lesson that I learned this week involved not reinventing the wheel. In my last blog I explained leveraging products’ testing or features for other products. I learned that this also applies for work and documentation. An example is my tech reports for my coating project. Once I had written the first one, I didn’t have to write the second one from scratch. Rather, I was able to copy and paste the majority of the material and then tweak it to fit a different product. As I read through many of Boston’s technical documents, I see the similar trends every day. The engineer who wrote the product specifications was smart enough to copy the design description from the design files, or the product verification testing used chunks of the product specification document to show that those specifications were met. This not only saves considerable time and effort, but it also ensures continuity from one document to the next.
Three more fun facts about Costa Rica:
- Due to the humidity, telephone poles are concrete and billboards are metal
- Farmers markets are held every weekend in local hotspots
- The exchange rate is approximately 570 colones to 1 USD
Due to a national holiday, we got a day off work on Wednesday. The holiday commemorates Costa Rica’s Virgin de Los Angeles as thousands of people walk to the Basilica in Cartago (near San Jose). Some walk upwards of 100 miles and take the whole week, others walk there in a single day. It is a diverse event; many walk to fulfill a religious vow or to find healing in the springs beneath the basilica. It was a beautiful display of Costa Rican culture and religion that I felt honored to witness.