Medical Microbiology with year in industry student at University of Leeds

David Busse

David studied BSc Medical Microbiology and completed a work placement at Novartis. After graduation, he went on to do a masters degree in Molecular and Cellular Basis of Infection and a PhD in Infection and Immunity.

Where did you do your placement year & what was your job role?

I worked for Novartis, a pharmaceutical company, at their research site in West Sussex. I worked as an industrial trainee within the respiratory disease unit.

Why did you decide to do a year in industry?

I always planned to get as much work experience as possible during my degree and in my opinion this is the best way to do that as you undertake an extended placement where you can really get to grips with the research and also properly experience life in your chosen area.

Could you describe a typical day on your placement?

One of the great things about working in a scientific environment is that you have very varied days. I would spend most of my day in the lab running experiments or writing up results and reading the literature. On top of this I was fortunate enough to be included in various meetings and events that put the work in context but also added variation to the job. To really get the most out of a placement you need to try out as many new skills as possible and keep trying new techniques. As a bonus this helps the work stay fresh and varied throughout the year.

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

I was responsible for carrying out an independent research project. The project developed throughout the year and as such my duties and responsibilities changed. I had to maintain records of my work and routinely present at meetings of my lab group but also to other members of the department.

Which aspects of your degree were relevant to your placement?

I learned a lot of new scientific techniques and got to grips with some I had been taught at University but had never got to put into practice properly. It was also a great experience for expanding my communication and team-working skills which are invaluable when moving on from studying.

What opportunities has your industrial placement opened up to you?

I believe my placement gave me the experience and knowledge to be able to go on to study for a PhD. I don’t think that I would have been successful in being offered a position without this experience.

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

It’s important to look for positions early and be ready to have applications sent off in the first month of year 2. I would highly recommend spending some time over summer brushing up the CV. If you’re fortunate enough to get an interview the best advice I can give is be positive and show enthusiasm and interest in the work of the company but also in the work of the interviewer. Plus make sure you understand why you want to do the placement and what specific skills you have picked up from your studies and hobbies that make you a good fit for the job.

Student support is an important part of a successful placement. How did the university support you during your year in industry?

The careers centre was very helpful in checking over my application and CV to make sure it was right for the placement I was applying for.

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

The most challenging, yet also most enjoyable aspect of my placement was presenting my project to the entire department at the end of the year along with the other placement students. This was a chance to show off what I had achieved and get some feedback on the project as a whole.

Have you joined any student societies/sports clubs at the university? If so how has this enhanced your time at the University?

I joined the American Football society during my first year which was a great society for picking up a new sport and meeting new people.

What key aspects of your experience of Leeds would you highlight to students thinking about coming do the same course/programme?

The university has a respected faculty and undergraduates are encouraged to get the most out of their degree by going out and finding work experience. The key experience for me was undertaking a short research placement at the university in my first year. This gave me that extra experience when looking for an industrial placement.