November 1, 2016, by Jackie Thompson

Micro Lady in a Big World

Sophie Parfitt. BSc Microbiology. Industrial placement student at Redx Pharma, 2016-2017. At least, that’s what my CV will say by the end of this year. There’ll be a lot of trials and tribulations ahead – but I’m certain I’ll learn a lot too!

This February, I got a call that frankly I wasn’t prepared for, and seemed too good to be true. After months of applying, I had finally been selected to take part in an industrial placement! So, over the next 12 months, I’ll be working at Redx Pharma, a medium-sized drug discovery company. I will be working in their Anti-Infectives division, on lots of different projects, including treatments to tackle drug-resistant bacteria.

Why I wanted a placement

Hello bacteria
It’s great to have theoretical knowledge in any field, and nothing pleased me more than getting to know Brock’s Biology of Microorganisms in the dim lights of the library before an exam. But for me, science is about experiments, which makes practical experience just as important. I decided to do a placement in order to gain skills and experience that I wouldn’t get a chance to do otherwise at university. I’m also intrigued to know about the industry as a whole, and how a pharmaceutical company might be different to places I’ve worked in before.

More importantly, I applied for a placement to see if I liked it. Let’s be honest – if I’m going to spend the rest of my life after my degree doing it, I had better well enjoy it!  

What I’m looking forward to on placement

I’m really looking forward to the lab experience. I love being in the lab!

During my last term, we had a lot of practicals, and I found it very satisfying, right from preparation and setting up your experiment through to collecting the final data. Of course, things can go wrong, but importantly you always learn from it, and rarely make the same mistakes twice. Being able to do that for a job is going to be a great experience.

Having the freedom to plan my own experiments is also a big plus for me – understanding why I’m doing certain things and procedures will help me learn far more about my subject than simply following what the lecturer says. Working independently in the lab will also help me gain confidence in my practical skills, which will hopefully help me during my dissertation project in final year.

Another thing I’m looking forward to is the people. There will be many different people at different stages in their career, whom all took different paths to get where they are today. I am looking forward to learning from them and their expertise, as well as making connections in general.

What I’m not looking forward to on placement

Honestly, I feel like the biggest challenge will be getting into the ‘adult’ routine. I’ve done office work before, but only on a part-time basis. Working 8am-4pm every day is a lot different to student life, where you might have a four-hour lecture and then have the rest of the day at your leisure. Swings and roundabouts though – no exams!

All in all, I’m starting my placement with the same nervous excitement I had when I started my degree. I don’t exactly know what’s going to happen, but I’m sure it will be a fun, if hectic experience. I can’t wait to get started.

If you’re a bioscientist at Sutton Bonington, talk to Judith Wayte about the possibility of doing a placement. For everyone else, visit our website and talk to a member of our team about your work experience options.

Posted in Work experience