July 26, 2017, by Postgraduate Placements Nottingham
Beyond the lab: getting a holistic experience of a science business
This week Alex Fletcher shares his experience of doing a postgraduate placement with Naturally Scientific Technologies (NST Ltd) working on a project analysing production efficiencies.
What really pleased me, on my first day of work at NST Ltd, was the way in which I was treated. I felt instantly valued from the word go. I had my own desk and computer when I walked in and they already had a company email set up for me. During the morning, I received a comprehensive induction and then had lunch with the other staff who were very friendly and welcoming. All of this quickly got rid of a lot of my first day nerves and made me feel happy and at ease.
My main role and project within the company throughout my PIP placement would be undertaking research into identifying a method to optimize the quality of the product the company produces. At the same time though all the staff, from the CEO down, were great about giving me a taste of as many aspects of the company as possible. This meant that as well as my core project I also gained insights into things such as lab construction, factory and production plant planning, sales and marketing, patents, and trade fairs.
It’s hard to choose a highlight from such a rich placement experience but one was the opportunity to see the company at work in different environments; for instance, I travelled up to Grimsby to view the manufacturing of products container and to take part in a problem-solving meeting. On another occasion, I attended a global conference in London to speak to potential clients about the firm and its products. Communicating research and selling a product are two areas where I really feel I’ve developed.
The lab work itself was exciting and rewarding but not without challenges as doing a lot of microscopy can be quite tiring and time consuming. Fortunately, when my eyes became very tired, my boss was receptive to my concerns and asked me to take breaks and arranged for me to have a week doing other types of work. That kind of consideration helped me to stay on track and it was pleasing when the results of the research started to come back looking positive.
Outside of the lab, I also enjoyed proof checking company documents detailing product specifications and analysing Material Safety Data Sheets to ensure they were correct. Although the task may not sound particularly exciting it showed me a side of science in industry I hadn’t seen before. I’d never considered things like safety sheets for employee handling so it was a great learning experience.
I was very impressed with NST Ltd’s professionalism and the way in which everything is run, and I’m delighted to have been able to be a part of what is a very exciting time for the company. I’m also grateful for the faith, trust and confidence shown in me. I appreciate how welcoming everyone was how I was treated throughout my placement.