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Working as a graduate in a startup

Luminate Medical makes devices that prevent the side effects of cancer treatment. Emer Lyster is a Graduate R&D Engineer at Luminate and the first to write for our ‘Inside Startup' series. For more information on careers at Luminate, click here.

Hi! I’m Emer, and I am a Graduate R&D Engineer at Luminate Medical.

After spending 5 years in Trinity College Dublin undertaking an integrated Masters in Biomedical Engineering, I began wondering what my post-college life would look like. During my time in college, I had undertaken two internships, one in a medical device design lab in TCD and the other in a multinational medical device company. These gave me the opportunity to learn what it means to be a professional engineer, the different roles engineers have in the medical device industry, and what aspects of engineering interested me most.

As an Engineering graduate, there are often too many options! For me, one of the most difficult aspects was that, unlike college, there is no correct answer. There is the option of joining multinational companies on 2 or 3 year-long rotational programs where you can dip your toe into many different departments and roles, in the hope of finding where you fit. There is the option of joining one of the ‘Big Four’ in a consulting role (still not fully sure what that means). There is the option of continuing your education in the form of Masters and PhD’s, to extend your academic knowledge and expertise. It’s a lot to weigh up!

There were three things that I was considering when looking for a next step:

  1. I really enjoy working in research and development, and wanted that to be my primary function;

  2. I wanted to gain as much experience as possible, as quickly as possible;

  3. I didn’t want to be another number in a system.

This is what brought me to the option of joining a startup. I began applying for jobs while I was in my final year of college. I had previously become interested in Luminate and their mission through LinkedIn, saw a job online for a ‘Design Engineer’ role (which I am not), and with that I applied.

Emer Lyster is a Graduate R&D Engineer at Luminate Medical

In typical Emer form, I started work two weeks after my final college exam in May 2023 as a Graduate R&D Engineer. I immediately got involved in many activities from the builds that were ongoing at our manufacturer to hands-on experience in the DV programme testing the device. The team move fast, and decisions are made quickly, which means no two days are the same. My role involves a wide variety of R&D activities, supporting the manufacturing process and working alongside the clinical team to ensure the safety of patients and smooth and efficient running of the clinical trials.

Working for Luminate and in a startup environment has ticked each of my career boxes. I am working in the R&D department of a medical device start up, I have learned more in the last six months than I ever thought I would, and I have gotten to know and work with each member of the Luminate team at one point or another. I work closely with many senior R&D professionals, giving me exposure to new skills and perspectives. I have also gotten the chance to work closely with the colleagues outside of R&D – my role is very close to our Clinical team, where I work to understand what the need of the patients are. This helps to direct my day-to-day work and gives a real sense of purpose.

Working as a graduate in a start-up gives you the opportunity to not only grow and learn professionally, but also gives you the unique aspect of forming the culture of your workplace. I’ve learned a lot, but I’ve also been able to shape the company in my own way, and be much more than just another number.


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