- Course: BSc Pharmacology
Jessica graduated with a BSc in Pharmacology from Leeds and now works as a Cross Franchise Project Coordinator for Medical Devices at Johnson&Johnson.
Why did you choose to come to Leeds University to study Pharmacology?
I discovered Leeds University at a UCAS fair in year 12 and was drawn to the campus and its size, as well as how close it was to the city centre. I learnt that Leeds was a leader in Life Sciences in the UK which increased my desire to study there. When I visited the campus I really liked the atmosphere; it was friendly and lively with lots of facilities. In addition the student union is really big with loads of societies to get involved in.
What have been the highlights of your course?
I really enjoyed the diversity of all the modules I have studied – it allowed me to gain knowledge across a whole broad range of topics. The level of teaching was very good and the lecturers were easy to approach when asking questions and were generally really helpful. I found that this course was good at helping students integrate and meet new people – through having tutorials over the 3 years with students in pharmacology and across neuroscience, human physiology and medical sciences.
What were your greatest challenges throughout your degree course?
Initially adapting to the workload was the first challenge that I had to overcome, in addition the style of learning (i.e. being lectured on a broad topic and then taking it upon yourself to go and research what you find interesting about it/details you think are relevant). Even though the level of independence needed to succeed on this course was daunting at first, it really helped myself to develop effective studying/revision techniques which carried me through my entire degree.
Tell me about how staff support helped you throughout your time at university?
The staff in the faculty were really good at communicating with students, during each lecture the academic would always emphasise that they were happy to take questions and provided their contact details. Personal tutorials in the first year were helpful to discuss settling in and how to approach university work. In labs the technicians provided guidance and support.
How would you rate the facilities that were available to you throughout your degree? How did this enhance your experience?
I thought most of the facilities were good, such as the lecture theatres and the labs that we used to do practicals – they were always clean and modern which made it feel more realistic being in a lab which is similar to those in industry. Being able to use/go to the dissection lab in Worsley was one of my favourite experiences, it was such a privilege to be able to investigate the anatomy of the body on real cadavers – this really helped my understanding especially in Neurobiology modules and spot tests.
What have you been doing since finishing your studies? What are you doing in terms of your career?
I have taken a year out to gain work experience in industry and a break from studying. I intend on pursuing further study next year/the year after.
What company are you working for, what is your role and what does it involve? If you are undertaking further study, what are you studying and what do hope to use this in your career?
I am currently working as a Cross Franchise Project Coordinator in Strategic Medical Affairs for Medical Devices at Johnson&Johnson. On one hand I help to process Medical Information Requests (MIR). These are questions submitted by healthcare professionals across the European, Middle Eastern and African (EMEA) region. I liaise with experts in their fields across this region and construct response letters to the healthcare professionals using this information. Another part of my role involves working as part of a team involved in evidence generation. We help to ensure that studies conducted using Johnson&Johnson medical devices are aligned with the strategic goals of the EMEA region and meet the evidence needs of the region. My role relies heavily on my ability to communicate with various stakeholders and be organised in everything I do, including working towards deadlines.
I intend on undertaking further study, I am particularly interested in medicine and have done work experience for that role. I would like to eventually pursue a career in clinical research. This role at Johnson & Johnson has shown me how multifaceted clinical research is and the many functions that play a role – as well as shown me how much medicine interlinks e.g. medical directors representing the interests/medical need for patients in the region.
What experiences at Leeds do you think have particularly helped with your career/will help with your future career? (How did your degree benefit your career?)
Leeds University provided many opportunities to expand my skill set and there was always help if you asked for it. The careers centre and Leeds for Life were excellent resources (and still are) for helping to write CVs and cover letters as well as offering advice when you have written them. During the course we also learnt about and gained experience in situations which may arise when you start work e.g. doing grant proposals, presenting findings of your study as a poster/powerpoint presentation, reviewing research to identify gaps/errors etc. These were really useful.
Have you any advice you would offer to current and prospective students?
If you are struggling with any content/or confused about exams speak to your lecturers or assessors because they are the ones who will give you to most accurate advice compared to others. Make sure that you keep on top of your work as it can be easy to fall behind, which will cause you a lot of stress later. Even though first year does not count towards your final degree classification still pay attention and work hard as the content is often developed on as you progress through your degree and first year gives you a solid foundation to build upon. Do further reading and find things that interests you in the topics because this will help in your understanding. Make sure you get a LinkedIn profile and make it as detailed as possible as companies and recruiters for big companies use it to find employees e.g I was contacted on LinkedIn for the role that I currently do, so make sure you use LinkedIn to not miss any opportunity.