WPP Health Fellowship

WPP Health Fellowship applications now closed for summer 2019 entry.

Overview

Through the Health Fellowship, WPP cultivates science graduates into tomorrow’s brightest science communicators. 

Our Health Fellows are given the opportunity to explore the interconnectivity of science, health, communications, creativity and technology and apply them in all aspects of health communications via the lens of medical education, public relations, research and advertising. Assigned to agencies across our UK network, our Health Fellows work with clients that include world-leading pharmaceutical and bio-medical companies, government bodies, innovative technology firms, consumer goods companies, charities and not-for-profits.

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About Health and Wellness

Health and Wellness is a fast-growing and dynamic field of communications for WPP and a sector that is rich with issues and purpose. Disease resistance and prevention, the impacts of our ageing population, the advances of technology in health diagnosis, monitoring and treatment and genetic discoveries are just a handful of the topics explored. Our role is to stimulate, engage with, and communicate the thinking and discoveries from these areas.

Every day our communicators create meaningful campaigns aimed at health professionals, advocacy groups, health opinion formers and consumers. From travelling to global medical symposiums, to helping frame the most motivating insights for creative campaigns, we also develop digital content for niche target audiences and engage with government bodies. We work to explain the intricacies of new drugs to journalists and patient groups, and support the work of all types of healthcare specialists. Taking advantage of WPP’s world-class working environments and collaborating with forward-thinking colleagues with diverse experience and backgrounds, our Health Fellows have everything they need to excel creatively.

For scientists who love to communicate, the WPP Health Fellowship may be just for you!

About the Programme

Each Health Fellow will spend nine months of a two year programme learning about and contributing to a specialist health agency. This will be followed by two rotations of six months – each into a different specialist health agency each rotation agreed in advance by WPP – before returning to the original agency for a final three months.

Read more from science graduates working in health communications and from three of our inaugural Health Fellows who share their inspiring stories here:

Imaan, Burson Cohn & Wolfe

I’m a recent graduate in Human Sciences from Oxford University and an inaugural WPP Health Fellow. Whilst at university, I founded an online platform engaging young people in Politics and Public Health. It was through this experience that I began to think about a career opportunity that would allow me to be creative and connect with people across a variety of contexts, to solve everyday challenges. When I came across the Health Fellowship, I really connected with the vision of the programme and the diverse opportunities that came with the role. I was also attracted to the prospect of being part of a community within WPP and their commitment to nurturing the next generation of leaders.

Taylor, WPP Health & Wellness

As a graduate in Medical Sciences (Human Genomics) from the University of Exeter, I was keen to apply what I had learnt during my degree, but was not enthused by the prospect of a career in research or medicine. I simply didn’t know what I wanted to do. It was only when I discovered the Health Fellowship that it genuinely seemed to be tailor made for me (pardon the pun), allowing me to apply my knowledge in a creative, collaborative and truly exciting role. Specifically, the structure of the fellowship and its rotations provides the perfect opportunity for me to find out where within the industry I would fit best.

Holly, Kantar Millward Brown Health

I’ve just begun the Health Fellowship since graduating from Newcastle University in Biomedical Science. As I considered what I wanted from a future career, it was important to me that I could utilise the scientific knowledge and skills I had developed throughout my education. However I knew that a career in research simply wasn’t for me. Throughout my life, I have enjoyed communicating with different audiences, from performing in musicals to my role as a “science busker” at University. After stumbling across an advert for the Health Fellowship, I discovered my dream job that I hadn’t previously known existed. It allows me to combine my passion for human health with my love for communication. Most importantly, the Health Fellowship offers me the opportunity to work for the world leader in communications services, whilst the three rotations provide me with the scope to explore the possible directions my career could take. As a Health Fellow I’ll gain invaluable skills from working beneath industry leaders in each of their respective specialisms.

Rachel Mackie, H+K Strategies

I’d thought a lot when I was at school about my career, and although I was very ambitious, there was no one thing that I could call my passion. I was drawn to both English and science as subjects, and went to the University of Bristol to study physiological science. I’d thought about health journalism before university, but actually by the time it came to deciding what to do next there didn’t seem to be many clear career options for people who didn’t want to become scientists or doctors. I decided to travel and when I came back my family suggested that I look at health communications.

It seemed to suit my desire to use my skills to “bridge the gap” between the complex science I’d learnt at university, and making that understandable for the general public. I started at H+K Strategies as an intern and didn’t really know what had hit me. I learnt so much in a short space of time, was able to work on world-renowned clients and it felt like, and continues to feel like, I’d joined a family. I was lucky enough to be hired following the internship and I’ve been here since.

I’ve found a world where I constantly tell myself "you never know what tomorrow holds" because you literally don't. You have a to do list when you start the day and by the end, your day will have been completely different to that. That's what’s great about it, it's varied and the fast paced culture makes it exhilarating.

Health communications is challenging because of the restrictions under which we work, but that makes it all the more complex and interesting. You have to think both strategically and creatively. The industry is changing and so our team and the company is constantly adapting to this. We recently redefined our team’s purpose as "people not patients" – a reminder and a mindset that an illness or condition is not what makes a person. Being able to take part in defining what my team stands for, and finding a group of people who share a similar view to me, reaffirmed that this is a really exciting industry to work in. As a company, we’re also taking on the philosophy of “working in beta”, where you are encouraged to take an idea, move to the testing stage as quickly as possible and based on the response, adapt it to suit what works. This is an approach I’ve taken on alongside my client work, whilst building a bot for the company, which is something I’d never imagined I’d do.

Finally, working in communications you really can make an impact. We’ve had stories that have played out globally across the media, sparking conversations online. You can help to be that bridge, to communicate the right information to the right people at the right time, in a way that they can understand it.

Shona Cowper, Ogilvy Healthworld

It probably started when a mouse tried to bite me. I was midway through my final year project at university in Glasgow and part of my work involved dealing with live animals. As a science graduate, I know that some people thrive in the lab environment – calculations, microscopes, statistics, test tubes, dilutions. That wasn’t for me. What I did like about the whole process though was writing it all up, researching the literature for the topic I was working on, putting a cohesive argument together about what my findings meant and how they may contribute to a bigger picture. When it came to finding a job I knew I wanted to work in the science field but not in a lab. I had no idea what science jobs didn’t involve working in a lab and there wasn’t much guidance about the variety of science jobs open to graduates.

I did some travelling and went back to Scotland to start the job search. When browsing the New Scientist magazine one day I spotted an advert for graduates to work at a medical communications agency in London. I was definitely interested in the London part of the offer but I had no idea what medical communications were. However, I was willing to do some research, apply for the job and see what happened. In the end I went for two interviews and was offered the job of an editorial assistant. Naturally I accepted and I made the long journey south to see what medical communications was all about. It was a steep learning curve and I don’t think I would ever have guessed what was involved in medical communications. I started out doing a mix of client services tasks and some junior level writing for pharma clients. In the end I decided to take the path of a medical writer – a job I’d not even heard of when I left university. And with that I progressed to writing presentations for expert doctors at international symposia, generating internal training materials, developing elearning content and a whole plethora of other materials that help educate doctors, patients and everyone in between. No two clients and no two projects have ever been the same regardless of the similarities they might appear to have ‘on paper’. After 3 years it was time for a change and the red lights of Ogilvy Healthworld beckoned. I’ve continued to learn with every project and I get to come into work every day and collaborate with extremely intelligent people.

Even now I’m still not sure I could accurately describe how the pharma industry works and what exactly my job entails. But what a career in medical communications has provided me is the opportunity to not completely abandon my degree and use some of that knowledge to hopefully, in even just a small way, impact on someone’s health and wellbeing.

Dan Baldwin, Ogilvy CommonHealth

My story is one of luck and ultimately taking opportunities that I was given and making the very best of them. I completed my degree in Biology from the University of Sheffield in the middle of the recession and ended up continuing my summer job in McDonalds in a frantic attempt to keep the bank off my back while I tried to work out what I wanted to do. I left to work as a lab assistant in the haematology department at Colchester General Hospital but it soon became clear that there was not going to be an opportunity for progression in the short term. I was at a dead end – I loved science and feeling like I was helping, but I had no idea where, or even if I could do continue with this path as my career.

I then received a message out of the blue from a friend from university saying that her Mum’s friend was looking for science grads to work at a medical communications agency in London. I had no idea what that meant or what the work entailed. So, I did some research, tried to decipher some of the jargon, and turned up to the interview incredibly nervous with what can only be described as the worst case of imposter syndrome ever seen – I got the job though. Six years and a lot of hard work later, I am still in the industry and I am still enjoying it. Every day is different, with new opportunities and fresh challenges thrown into the mix. I get to work with some of the best in the industry to deliver interesting and innovative work. Over the years, I have travelled to Dubai, Cape Town, Paris, Bratislava, Amsterdam, Edinburgh and Frankfurt, and have had the opportunity to work on some of the largest healthcare and prescription brands globally, developing everything from advertising campaigns to award-winning disease awareness pieces.

I’ve always struggled to describe what I do; I’ve essentially given up trying to explain to my family and friends and just say ‘advertising to healthcare professionals’. The truth is that it is much more than that. My job offers me a mixture of science, communication theory as well as practice, medical regulations, creative thinking, project management, negotiation skills and design. I really enjoy it and, if you’ve read to the end of this, I’d hazard a guess that you may as well.

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