Hayley Johnson

October 7, 2020, by jhillary1

Every job is an opportunity to improve your skills

By Hayley Johnson, MSci Biology alumnae

“I think the best advice I had was to remember that you don’t have to secure your dream job right away.”

How did you find your first role and what did the recruitment process involve?

My first role upon graduating was working for a market research company. I worked remotely, phoning members of the public and asking them to complete surveys on behalf of different companies and government agencies. A friend had told me about the job and encouraged me to apply. The application process involved an application form followed by a recorded video interview, and finally a trial shift. Although this was not my ideal job, having done my degree in biology, it had its benefits and working from home allowed me to save money while I continued to apply for other jobs.

How did your first role lead to other roles?

After a few months, I realised that I missed working with people, as this job was done remotely, and so applied to be a seasonal worker in a shop. The first job had given me plenty of skills and experiences I could draw upon in interviews such as handling difficult customers and the ability to communicate effectively with members of the public.

Again, working in a shop wasn’t exactly what I had hoped upon graduating but I enjoyed working with people and I was able to build my confidence and team working skills which helped me to secure my next role.

While working I was always looking for new opportunities and applying for other jobs – I think that’s one of the best things to do, never close yourself off to opportunities or risk settling in a job just because you are comfortable! Although I didn’t know exactly what job I wanted I knew I enjoyed being in a lab and so decided to go for that, applying for different roles in hospitals, universities and industry.

What you are currently doing?

I currently work for Cancer Research UK (CRUK) as a Scientific Officer II. I am part of the nucleic acids biomarkers team which specialises in analysing blood samples from patients and performing molecular profiling to try and match them to clinical trials.

I started here in January and haven’t looked back since. I always knew I wanted to work in a lab upon graduating and get some experience behind me and so this was the perfect opportunity.

The application involved sending a written statement as to why I believed I was suited to the position and what I could bring to the role. My tip for this type of application would be to ensure you include every point in the job description or person specification with evidence as to how you meet each point, as this is really what employers are looking for. I was then invited to interview with a panel of three people and offered the job.

What professional development opportunities have you been given?

I already feel I have learned so much in such a short space of time. Everyone has been so supportive, and I was given lots of training to make sure I was comfortable with the different protocols and processes we have to follow. Being part of an organisation such as CRUK is a mixture between academia and industry and so I still get to attend talks and seminars and I am constantly learning on the job which is what science is all about.

What support did you receive from the Careers team?

Throughout university, I had attended plenty of careers fairs and workshops. I also took the opportunity to get my CV checked and was given advice on interviews and assessment centres. This gave me an insight into what options were available to me after graduating and what to expect during my job search.

What advice would you give a student about getting a graduate role?

I think the best advice I had was to remember that you don’t have to secure your dream job right away. There’s a lot of pressure when you graduate, and it feels as though everyone already has things lined up. It was at my boyfriend’s graduation ceremony that the speaker told us about the ‘ABCD’ of jobs:

First, you get A job, any job. Then a Better job. Then a Career and finally your Dream job.

This put into perspective how every experience is worthwhile and spurred me on even when I was in jobs that weren’t particularly for me. Remember every job is an opportunity to improve your skills and will help you secure your dream job.

Explore the graduate opportunities open to you on our website and talk to an adviser. If you don’t know what area of work interests you, check out the resources on our I have no ideas webpage.

Posted in Alumni StoriesChoosing Your Career