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This is a guest blog by James Fox, a current student studying BSc (Hons) Biological Sciences.

Unlike BU, not all university’s offer a placement year and I knew from the outset it was most definitely something I wanted to do, so I could graduate with a degree and work experience.  BU’s placement team are brilliant and were instrumental in both inspiring me to take a placement, and then landing an amazing opportunity to work at one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies.  The placement year is sandwiched in between your second and third year so you go into your placement with two years of teaching.  I did a 54-week microbiology placement at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), who have sites across the UK and world (and pay well too)! BU encourages it’s students to get paid work placements. The application was difficult, with online tests, video interviews and then an assessment centre. The placement team provide information and tips on how to handle various types of interview along with PAL sessions that gave me the opportunity to talk to students returning from their placements; all
things that I found really beneficial. My year at GSK was hugely valuable. I worked on several projects ranging from biotechnology and microbial fermentation of antibiotics to genetic engineering. I spent a lot of time in the lab, improving general technique and working with devices that I wouldn’t have had the opportunity
to work with elsewhere. I also noticed a massive improvement in my soft skills from presenting results to my team and external collaborators, all of which is translatable into any future career. My main project aimed to downscale an industrial sized fermentation into a small, lab-sized fermenter and then test my work. The work that I developed is now an important project within the department and is being worked on by my replacement.

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