It had been clear in my mind for a long time that I would take a “year out” following graduation from the University of Edinburgh. I hadn’t opted for a Gap Year when I left secondary school, reasoning that I wanted to kick off my degree promptly. Summers spent working meant that I’d done little travelling during my time as an undergrad, or had the time to do exciting volunteering things.
Come my final year as a Chemistry student and I realised that I wanted something quite specific. Namely, another shot in industry.
There were numerous personal and professional reasons why I had a craving for a full-time pharmaceutical job rather than casual work & travelling. I had been told that chemistry internships/graduate-level lab jobs were looked upon exceedingly favourably by grad school admissions.
- The phD student would be more skilled and experienced doing practical work; more capable of working with lower levels of supervision and quicker at adapting the academic lab environment.
- A first-hand knowledge of the ups and downs of Research and Development (R&D) would inure the candidate against the stumbling blocks in any researchers’ work; as well as give them an idea of strategies and approaches to obtaining data.
- A full-time long term 9-to-5 laboratory job would equip the candidate with a strong work ethic and good organisational/time management skills.
- Depending on the type of R&D work already completed, the candidate may already have a clear idea of where they want to take their phD, what areas they are most interested in and what the background to their area of interest is.
- Broadening my knowledge of the pharmaceutical industry. Whilst at GSK I worked in the Drug Discovery (Hit to Lead Optimisation stages) as a Medicinal Chemist. Process Development Chemistry is a different beast altogether. Not to mention the fact that I’m working for another company entirely…in a continent subject to a different set of laws and office culture. Such a range of experience is important when it comes for me to choose future jobs in the industry.
- Broadening my chemistry experience. New reactions, new conditions, new synthetic approaches, new standards. In Process Development you are looking to product economical, efficient reactions. In Drug Discovery you are looking to generate novel analogues on a small-scale: expensive reagents and low temperatures are acceptable.
- Directly useful for phD applications. As well as helping me to establish connections with industry and gain useful advice/information, it I will allow me to talk about my experiences on the Personal Statement and be a topic for my referees.
- Travel & Horizons. I’ve done embarrassingly little in the way of exploring Europe. I hope that being centrally-located and having access to French, German & Swiss railways, I’ll get to see much more of the diverse continent. It is also a chance for me to gain some skill in speaking both German and French.