Tag Archives: industrial placement

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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5 things to think about before you start your placement

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Already secured your placement? Find out what you need to do before you start from our Work Placement Manager, Rebecca.

So you’ve secured a placement – congratulations! Now it’s time to start to prepare for that all important first day. The 5 points that I’m going to cover here may not seem like the most exciting things to think about before you start your placement but you’ll be amazed at the difference understanding these things can make in the first few weeks and months as you settle in. These points are relevant to all placements but if your role involves designing or creating new ideas or products then the ones relating to confidentiality and intellectual property will be even more important. Continue reading

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How I got my placement job role through directly contacting an employer

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This week, Psychology student Chloe talks about her experience of securing a placement by directly approaching the employer. She goes into a bit of detail about her role at Virgin Active and how contacting them helped her land an exciting placement position. If you’re struggling to find any advertised opportunities that you’re genuinely interested in, this post can show you an alternative approach to the conventional application process.

The role

I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to complete a year placement role unique to any others I had seen advertised. I was given multiple job roles and training with the global company of Virgin Active.  During my placement I was given the opportunity to take up the front of house role, the membership sales consultant role and also shadow and assist the service managers during team meetings and in the work place. The job roles varied but they all required constant face-to-face customer contact. As a consequence I had to quickly develop my communication and customer service skills. All of the job roles were very demanding and thus required me to be able to quickly adapt and be versatile. This is because some days I could switch between all of these three job roles in just one day. Although difficult, I found this very rewarding as the more challenges I overcome in one job role, helped me thrive in another.

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Looking for a placement or internship? Here’s what you need to know

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Are you looking for a placement or internship for next year? This post outlines a few key points to be aware of and is equally relevant for those of you looking for any type of work experience.

By far the most common questions I’ve had from students in the first few weeks of this term have been about placements and internships. This is fantastic to see – work experience is so valuable – but a lot of the students I’ve seen have been really stressed out about this.  As such, I thought a quick post on the things you need to know if you’re looking for placements or internships for next year might help. Continue reading

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How I got my job: Placement student at IBM Watson IoT

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In this week’s blog post, Hannah, a Leeds University Geography student tells us about her role as a placement student at IBM, how she got the role and what skills and experiences have helped her application stand out. Hannah works in the Watson Internet of Things business unit – IBM Watson. The Internet of Things and number of connected devices is growing daily, so this is a particularly exciting internship opportunity in a developing sector.

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Your careers questions answered #UoLCareerQs

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We were at Freshers fair today and loved speaking to so many of you – at all stages of your studies! We thought it might be useful to answer some of the most common questions we were asked today on the blog, so here they are.

We will also tweet ongoing common questions and advice at #UoLCareerQs and if you’ve got a careers-related question, just tweet us using the hashtag.

Q: What does the Careers Centre do?

We are here to help ALL University of Leeds students with their careers and next steps after university. Whether you’re an undergraduate, a postgraduate or a PhD student; whether you know exactly what you want to do or if you have no idea, we are here to help you.  You can find out more about our services on our website. Continue reading

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3 ways LinkedIn can help you find relevant employers: Part 2

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This is the 2nd post in our 3-part mini series outlining 3 key ways LinkedIn can help you find potential employers, whether this be for jobs, experience or placements.

This post outlines how you can use the company search feature to identify employers by location and sector. Part 1 of the series outlines how the advanced people search function can help you identify potential employers.

Whether you’re looking for experience, placements or a graduate job, it can sometimes be hard to identify potential relevant employers.  This is particularly so if you’re looking outside of the large multi-national organisations. Opportunities with other types of employers, or in other sectors, may not be as widely advertised, and many people actually find jobs and experience by pro-actively approaching employers of interest on a speculative basis. In this 3-part mini series, we’ll show you 3 easy ways you can leverage LinkedIn to identify potential employers of interest.

You may be interested in a particular sector/s and location/s.  This is a great, and useful, starting point to begin researching potential employers.  LinkedIn is one of many ways you can start to do this. Continue reading

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