I worked in the Department of Genetic Toxicology which conducts pre-clinical safety assessment of new drugs to determine if they will be safe enough to carry through to clinical trials, specifically whether the drugs have any interaction with DNA which could potentially cause cancer.
The vast majority of drugs need to have safety testing and data created before they can be trialled in clinics so despite the department being a small group of around 30 people, all potentially new drugs come through the department for testing making it a very busy and lively area to work in. I was given a specific project investigating photogenotoxicity, the effects of UV interaction with drugs and DNA. Around half of my time was spent in the lab, either conducting experiments or preparing to conduct experiments with the other half spent producing reports on my lab work and helping colleagues with their studies.
The role I was given required me to work alone on my project but also work as part of a larger team when urgent experimental work was needed for a quick turnaround of results.
I was able attend seminars relating to my project and was lucky enough to be able to present my work at a four-day national conference in Cardiff, at which experts in the field attended. The work was well accepted which resulted in it being presented by another member of the group at an international conference. Data from my project is also being used in a paper due to be published this year!
The most enjoyable part of my placement was getting my work published and attending conferences! Also meeting other students on placement at the same site, Ware is a small site so there are plenty of opportunities to get to know people with in and out of office socialising. Getting paid is also great!
The opportunity to work in a large scale industrial environment has been invaluable to me and has undoubtedly helped me with my final year project, given me ideas for future career paths and has boosted my employability. It's a fantastic way to find out if industry is a potential career path, learn about specialised areas you are not exposed to during your degree and potentially create contacts. It has increased my confidence and communication skills and any experience is extremely attractive to potential employers after graduation. Applying for as many placements as possible, as early as possible is a good idea as certain areas can be quite competitive to get in to. Also, take full advantage of working in a large industrial company as there are lots of training opportunities throughout the year which look great on a CV.