Clinical Research Coordinator
Tell us about yourself. How did you come to Tulane?
My decision to go to Tulane was very unexpected because I had never heard of Tulane before receiving an application in the mail. After filling out that application, everything seemed to fall into place. There was the waived fee, my first acceptance letter, a scholarship and an amazing excuse to travel to New Orleans. I flew down to New Orleans with my dad, toured the campus and decided almost immediately that I was going to Tulane that August.
Bachelor of Science in Engineering, Biomedical Engineering 2012
What do you do?
Novavax develops vaccines and my department (Clinical Development) is responsible for organizing, managing, and completing the clinical trials for these vaccines. Specifically, I aid in:
- the selection of clinical sites,
- submissions of essential regulatory documents to independent review boards,
- drafting study documents (manuals, diary cards, trackers),
- training investigators, coordinators and monitors on study protocols, and
- the management of vendors and consultants.
What are some of the pros of your current position or role?
Working for a small company gives you a hands-on experience that isn't available to you at larger companies. (I knew very little – basically nothing – about the industry when I first started and feel like I've gained years of experience in a few months.)
I didn't have a "true" job description when I started working here, which gave me the opportunity to get involved in the tasks and projects that really interest me.
My day to day responsibilities include corresponding with many other people in the industry. Getting to know this many professionals has given me a great outlet for advice and connections in the future.
My co-workers. If it wasn't for the amazing people I work with, I don't know that I'd love my job quite as much as I do.
I'd probably consider our weekly yoga lessons and Friday bowling games as “pros” as well.
What insights did you have as a college student?
Find yourself a mentor.
I started working in a lab at the Tulane University School of Medicine during my junior year. I simply wanted some extra cash and thought that the opportunity to put the School of Medicine as my current employer would look good on my resume. Yes, both of those things did happen by the time of graduation but that wasn't the only good that came out of this decision. Working in the lab was slow at times and it gave me the opportunity to talk to the professor. We'd chat about anything from neuroscience to Mexican food to model trains... sometimes we'd talk about things like career goals and aspirations. When it came time to apply for jobs, I always knew who I could ask for a true and sincere recommendation.
What academic advice would you offer incoming students?
Plan it out.
I switched my major from Cell & Molecular Biology to BME at the beginning of my sophomore year. I came back that fall and met with my Academic Advisor to plan out my courses for the next 3 years. I'm so glad that I did because I wouldn't have graduated in time if I didn't perfectly fit all of my courses in.
What was your first job after earning your undergraduate degree?
I thought I wanted to go to law school after graduating from Tulane. For my first job, I worked at an IP law firm in Manhattan. I realized quickly that being a lawyer was not something I wanted to do and found another job soon after.
Do you have any other recommendations?
Seriously though: don't do it. Most of us have heard this piece of advice but tend to ignore it. We choose to put things off until the very last possible moment and always regret it later. By completing reading throughout the semester, going to office hours on weeks when there aren't exams and finishing assignments in advance, you not only save yourself the stress but you stand out to your professors as a student who cares enough to try.
LinkedIn: Andria Civitella
Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 504-865-4000 firstname.lastname@example.org