Written by Carlyle Collins
BSc (Hons) Forensic Science
Let me be honest with you. Doing a degree is very hard work. So if the opportunity is presented to take a break from academic work while simultaneously enhancing your employability skills, would you not take it? Well I did. I opted to undertake a placement year as part of my degree. I haven’t regretted this decision!
The main reason I’ve taken a placement year is to gain practical skills that will serve me well in the world of work. My role, as a laboratory based Research Assistant, requires that I work independently, follow complex instructions, train others, undergo training workshops with experts in various scientific fields etc. This range of activities has placed me in unique situations that I’ve had to learn to deal with. As a result, I’ve gained knowledge that I would not have been able to learn in a lecture theatre.
Furthermore, my placement job has helped to consolidate things learnt during my first two years of university. One example of this is calculating serial dilutions. I could not understand the principle of this technique after being taught it in lectures. However, diluting samples and making up standards is something I’m required to do daily. Hence, understanding how to dilute samples quickly and accurately was a necessity. With help from my supervisor, I now understand the principle and I’m now able to confidently and independently make standards and dilute samples.
I’d say the most valuable thing I have gained from my placement experience, is the network I have created. I have met people from different fields of science, doing various projects and I’ve connected with them. I’ve chatted with them, discussed a wide range of things and learnt much about areas outside of my field of study.
Undergoing a placement is an opportunity you only get once. I’d encourage you to take it! Every stage of the process – from completing applications and undergoing interviews to finally working – is a learning opportunity in itself. You will only benefit from it all!
By Carlyle Collins