Biological sciences with industrial placement abroad student at University of Leeds

James Murphy

Why did you decide to do a year in industry?

I am doing my placement year at the University of Calgary in Canada. I wanted to do a placement for a number of reasons. Firstly I wanted to gain valuable skills used in biological research. These skills gain have greatly boosted my employability for when I graduate. I also wanted to find out what it is like to work in a research setting to help me decided what I want to do after I graduate.

What were your key responsibilities? How did these develop as your placement progressed?

My main responsibility is to perform accurate experiments in a timely manner and present the data. As my placement progressed I was allowed to perform more technically challenging and expensive experiments and have more control over the direction of my experiments.  

What were the most enjoyable and most challenging aspects of your placement?

The most enjoyable and challenging aspect of my placement has been to experience living in another country for a year! Expanding my knowledge of biology specifically around asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung immunology has been both very enjoyable and a good challenge.    

What aspects of your degree were relevant to your placement?

Every aspect of my first 2 years as a biological sciences undergraduate has helped me in my placement. Firstly the lab modules along with a 2 month summer placement greatly helped me when it came to doing experiments that I had already learnt or even learning new techniques. The firm bases of immunology and biochemistry that I gained from my first two years, has been invaluable to understand the hypothesis that I am investigating; in addition to how this is relevant clinically and in the lungs as a whole.    

What advice would you offer to other students considering doing a year in industry?

Defiantly do it! Do not be put off by rejections while applying as it is a competitive process, and may take many applications before you are successful. Finally do not be by shy to ask about placements that are not advertised as these can be the most beneficial and easiest to get due to potentially no one else been in the application process.

What are your ambitions for the future? Do you have specific career plans? Has the University (careers centre/lecturers etc.) helped you with these goals in any way?

I firstly want to do a PhD and then either pursue a career in academia or industry. The University of Leeds has a brilliant support system to help students find what they what to do and achieve it after their graduate degree. The careers centre is great for helping you with C.V. and cover letter writing skills and interview skills. Furthermore they advertise and host many career fairs which are a great way to find out the sorts of jobs available to students, which is almost anything for a science degree student, and talk to people in those fields. The faculty of biological sciences has an employability officer whose sole responsibilities is to help students have the best possible skills sets to get a job or further there studies after graduating.