Sakina Amin, a second-year Biological Sciences student at the University of Leeds lost two exciting summer research placements at the University of Cambridge due to Covid-19. Since then, she has been engaging in online courses, working on her mental health and researching her academic areas of interest.
The cancellation of my placements made me feel really disappointed as I had worked hard to achieve them. However, I am motivated to spend summer pursuing my research interests in molecular biology and developing computing skills as I know they will be useful in my degree studies and beyond.
After my undergraduate studies, I plan on pursuing a PhD and entering academia, so summer research experience would have benefited me tremendously. However, during these uncertain times, I have realised the importance of mental health and optimising available resources to make the most out of the situation and remain positive.
My tutor has been very supportive and advised me to prioritise my mental health along with using my time efficiently. I am currently learning Python for bioinformaticians through Coursera and have also enhanced my scientific skills. I tried looking for online internships, but soon realised that lab internships are difficult to deliver online so invested my time sharpening my skills. Aside from this I have been spending my time doing yoga and learning the ukulele.
Here are some useful resources
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself and take care of your mental health during the pandemic.
- Blog on coping with coronavirus stress
- Looking after your mental health
- LUU – update on mental health support
Do something fun!
Do fun non-science activities such as art and craft, puzzles or learn a musical instrument.
Advance your career by studying online
University of Leeds students have access to free online courses
Others I have found useful:
Coding and Bioinformatics
Learn statistics, data analysis, algorithms for genomic or imaging data.
- Code Camp
- R for Data Science
- Data mining for computational biologists
- Neuromodeling (Computational psychiatry) – Learning the latest methods of analysis and modelling with tutorials.
Improve on some of laboratory skills to enhance your CV.
- Structural biology research
- Make cool scientific figures at Biorender
- Cryo-EM techniques
- iBiology for lectures and career development
- TED talks on scientific topics
- Develop reading scientific literature
Free textbooks and other resources
- Virtual experience what it is and where to find it – University of Leeds Careers blog
- Inside Sherpa
- The Intern Group
- Virtual internships – https://www.virtualinternships.com/
You could also join science/academic Twitter and share ideas with people passionate about your area of research interest. It is a great time to develop your LinkedIn account and see how people in your field are engaging their time.
- More careers information and resources specifically for Faculty of Biological Sciences students
- For more general ideas read the top 10 tips for career development in lockdown
And don’t forget there is lots of online careers support available even during campus closures.