Neuroscience with industrial placement student at University of Leeds

Danielle Ormshaw

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

British American Tobacco – Web and Publications Assistant

 Why did you decide to do a year in industry?

In the current economic climate it is important for graduates to stand out from their peers when applying for jobs – this message is constantly repeated throughout a student’s time at university. A year in industry gives the opportunity to develop a range of skills that can be applied to a variety of career paths, and in this way they are valuable.

 Could you describe a typical day on your placement?

My role is very diverse, and no two days are the same. My primary project is to assist in the content management of, our research and development website. This involves writing and publishing content (such as news stories and press releases), as well as constantly updating the library archives and homepage interface. I also co-ordinate updates of our static pages – this includes chasing up key scientists who act as authors, working with our freelance writer and illustrator to improve the flow of the pages, and also acting as a “first pass” by rewriting the text to reduce its weight while maintaining the level of understanding. My other activities include assisting in the events management and hosting of external regulatory stakeholders, screening publications for potential press release, copy writing, and social media management. 

We want other students at Leeds to know what an exciting opportunity the year in industry is. What was the real highlight for you?

The highlight of my year in industry has been the project management and implementation of a @BAT-Science Twitter handle for our research and development website (, and the successful recommendation of a new two-way dialogue approach to online external scientific engagement. This is especially satisfying because it is the first time a FTSE 100 tobacco company will approach online engagement in this way. 

What opportunities has your industrial placement opened up to you?

One of the most surprising benefits of my placement was the opportunity to attend training courses at the head office of The Guardian newspaper. This included an evening course in freelance journalism and a whole day event on better copy writing. I have also had the opportunity to be trained in media interview techniques and science engagement by an external consultancy company.

My team also gave me the opportunity to initiate and manage my own project, working with me to successfully deliver a new two-way dialogue approach to online external scientific engagement.