Tag Archives: Biological Sciences

Placement year at p53 – the highs and lows of working in Singapore

 Siri Place is in her final year of  a BSc Medical Biochemistry degree following the completion of a placement year at P53 Lab in Singapore.  Her story shows that although it is not easy to find a placement year, persistence, hard work and taking chances can pay off!

Applying for placement

The job hunt for placements was long, tedious and hard. It began in freshers week and consumed my life until I finally gave up in March. I had applied for everything under the sun: from R&D to supply chain to marketing and I was constantly being rejected at the final stages of each role. I was fed up of video interviews and assessments and decided it was time to focus on revision and my looming deadlines.

That was until I randomly stumbled across p53 Lab in Singapore. The prospective student had dropped out last minute and I’d overheard the lab were looking for someone to take their place. It was May, a week before summer exams were about to start and I remember sitting in the library, finding any way to distract myself revision.

Spontaneously, I sent off my CV with a small cover letter and heard back immediately – they wanted a skype interview the following day, but because of the time difference, it meant waking up at 6.30 for a 7am call.

I had felt fairly unprepared, not expecting a reply so fast, and so spent the rest of my day researching around Singapore, p53 and what to expect in a lab-based interview. The interview lasted a total of 15 minutes and I was offered the job there and then; it seemed they were impressed by my CV and initiative to apply.

It just shows that some jobs can be found purely by luck- by being in the right place at the right time- had I not overheard the conversation, I would not have known to apply!  All the hard work and rejection had finally paid off.

Moving to Singapore

I was unbelievably nervous to start a new job, let alone move 13 hours away from all my friends and family. Luckily, I had known the other student who accepted the same placement so we moved out together and found ourselves a lovely condo to live in. It seemed too good to be true; the complex had a pool, gym and was close to the lab.

However, moving abroad was not all fun and games – it involved a lot of medical exams, money and copious amounts of paperwork to fill in. There was some homesickness being so far from home, but we can both look back and say it was truly worth it.

Working in the lab

I had no experience in a research lab, other than from labs at uni, and so my first few months involved learning, reading and more learning. Nevertheless, my team were super supportive and I quickly picked up the key skills. I was even crowned the ‘queen of Western blots’.

Working in a lab can be tedious, long hours and sometimes involve a lot of waiting. It can also mean messing up a week’s worth of experiments if you don’t concentrate 100%.

But it was also very sociable and fun. I enjoyed the work I was doing and was invested in my project. I even got the opportunity to attend a two-day conference on peptides and proteins, which was largely insightful and a great networking opportunity.

Living in Singapore

It wasn’t all hard work in the lab. My weekends consisted of expensive brunches, beach clubs and even a few weekends abroad. With Malaysia and Thailand next door, I visited several countries and even spent my 21st in Bali with some friends.

Singapore is a diverse country and full of expats so I was never short of friends. The lifestyle was unforgettable – the work party was even on a yacht!

Reflections and tips

Reflecting on my experience, I think it’s really important to not give up and to stay positive. I was lucky enough to have ‘stumbled’ upon this opportunity, but it doesn’t mean I didn’t work hard work to get there.

Don’t be disheartened, and take every opportunity you can get. If you can get the chance to work abroad, I couldn’t recommend it enough. Even just showing you moved away and adapted to new cultures is a great thing to put on your CV and will make you stand out to employers.

I developed an abundance of transferable skills at p53Lab and looking back, I feel as though I am at a great advantage not only in applying for graduate roles but also in final year.

I am now looking for opportunities move back to Singapore after graduation as I enjoyed my year there so much!

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How I got my job in Medical Communications

In June 2017 Abigail Heffer graduated from the University of Leeds with a 2:1 in BSc Biological Sciences (Ind), she now works at ApotheCom as a Senior Account Executive.  Abigail  secured a placement year at Roche during her studies- with CV support from the Careers Centre.   Follow Abigail’s journey from University of Leeds student to the rewarding, dynamic, fast paced world of Medical Communications.

Applying for a placement year

From relatively early on in my degree, I knew a lab-based career wouldn’t be for me. I wanted the buzz of an office, and to have a role that necessitated communicating with a wide range of different people and personalities. An office-based role in the pharmaceutical industry seemed like it might be a good fit, and so at the beginning of my second year at University I applied for industrial placements with the major players – Pfizer; GSK; AstraZeneca; Johnson & Johnson – but with no success.

Careers Centre support

I hadn’t previously considered visiting the University Careers Centre, but as something in my applications wasn’t hitting the mark, I turned to them for support. The Career Advisers were incredibly helpful, making some key tweaks to my CV and covering letters that would help me stand out from other candidates. Multiple applications and many mock interviews later, I was very happy to find out that I had been offered a placement with Roche in their Clinical Operations department, Welwyn Garden City.

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How I got my job: IMED Graduate Scientist at AstraZeneca

ET_careers website photoEmily Talbot studied Human Physiology at Leeds, graduating in 2016 and secured a place on AstraZeneca’s IMED programme.  In this post she outlines the path she took to her current role and shares her advice for other students.

How I Got My Place on the IMED Early Phase Drug Discovery Graduate Programme at AstraZeneca

For science students, there is one question which circulates in the mind of many who want to remain in science after University: do I have to do a PhD? I studied Human Physiology and as graduation loomed closer, I knew I wanted to remain in science but wasn’t ready to commit to a PhD.

In a second year epiphany/panic, I decided I didn’t want to do an industrial placement year so I looked for opportunities within the Faculty of Biological Sciences. Continue reading

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How I got my placement: Student Engagement & Volunteering Support Intern

Naeemah

Naeemah Patel is studying BSc Pharmacology at Leeds and is currently undertaking a placement year within the Student Placement team at the University, working with the Volunteering and Students into Schools teams.  Naeemah secured this placement through the Leeds Internship Programme and in this post outlines her role and her advice to other students seeking placements.

I am currently on my placement year, based within the University of Leeds Careers Centre, working as Student Support and Engagement Intern for Volunteering Opportunities and the Students into Schools programme. My role within the Student Placement Division is really varied, involving jobs such as managing LeedsforLife opportunities, co-ordinating our social media, administration of student data on My Career and giving one-to-one support and guidance to students through weekly drop-in sessions. Continue reading

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How I got a place on the NHS Scientist Training Programme 2017

11 July 2017.
University of Leeds alumni scholar Niamh Hall.Niamh Hall has just completed her BSc in Human Physiology at Leeds and successfully gained a place on this year’s NHS Scientist Training Programme.  In this post she shares her tips and advice for other students interested in this career.

If you are reading this it is most likely because you have an interest in science and healthcare. If so, you may have heard of the NHS Scientist training programme (STP) and you may have heard that it is extremely competitive. I am here to tell you that a first time applicant in their 3rd year with no year in industry or previous experience can apply and can be successful in obtaining a place on the programme. I’ve been asked to write this article to give an insight into what my job will entail and to give a few hints and tips to anyone thinking of applying in the future.

What is the STP?

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How I got my job: Secondment on the role of science and engineering in policy and parliament

katiee

Katie Timms is undertaking a PhD in Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine at the University of Leeds’ Institute of Medical & Biological Engineering, following her undergraduate degree in Medical Sciences (2015), also from the University of Leeds.  In this post she explains why she chose to do a secondment during her PhD and how networking and her proactive approach helped her to secure it.

Why did I decide to undertake a secondment?

Browsing through twitter one afternoon I came across a poster describing alternative careers for scientists, based on the Science Council’s ’10 type of scientists’. In case you were wondering, there’s a quiz on the Science Council’s website! I have always been interested in science and research, but was curious about the alternative careers available following my PhD. Continue reading

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How I got my job – Placement year with UCB in Belgium

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Biological Sciences student Alisha talks about her decision to do an industrial placement abroad with UCB biopharma, Belgium. She talks about the experience and give some useful advice for students looking to do a placement abroad.

About the placement:

For my year in industry I decided to go to Belgium to work at UCB biopharma in Braine L’alleud (near Brussels). Here I worked in the investigative toxicology department on a project involving drug induced cardiac injury. My activities varied on a day to day basis from undertaking experiments in the lab, to analyzing data and compiling literature reviews in the office. This meant that I got to experience how research projects worked in medium sized pharmaceutical companies such as UCB, and being in a relatively small department meant that I was making a real contribution to the project, which will lead to me having my name on a poster and published article next year. Continue reading

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