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My Professional Training year – Max Attwood, MChem Chemistry

“I got a great sense of achievement from my Professional Training year. Getting the chance to experience a real working environment was invaluable.”

Since I left school three years before coming to the University of Surrey, I was initially keen to complete my degree in three years and enter the world of work. However six months into my first year, with the encouragement of my lecturers, I changed my mind completely and decided to embark on a longer MChem programme with integrated Professional Training.

Finding a placement was easy because the Department of Chemistry has a great system in place where placements are sought out and forwarded to students. The University has great links with many industry partners and because of this, a number of companies will specifically ask for Surrey students when it comes to placements.

I decided to spend my placement with PerkinElmer Ltd, a global company focused on human and environmental health because it sounded like a unique opportunity. It gave me the chance to step away from chemicals and get an insight into a technology-based profession.

I worked in the Molecular Spectroscopy Research Team at PerkinElmer’s Seer Green (Buckinghamshire) site, where I undertook several small sustainable engineering projects focused on improving the performance or value of a current product. Throughout the year I also worked on a large project which involved the construction and assessment of a prototype NIR (near-infrared) spectrometer, an analysis device used in the pharmaceutical and chemical sectors. During this project I was required to make up various samples to allow us to look at specific applications using company software, and was also given the opportunity to learn basic python programming for more customised analysis.

One of the things I found on placement was how important it is to branch out and learn different skills whenever you get the opportunity, and I also learned to tackle difficult tasks with a more positive attitude.

I got a great sense of achievement from my Professional Training year. Getting the chance to experience a real working environment was invaluable and thanks to the money I earned, it was great to be able to fund my own holiday with my partner and learn to ski – a long-held ambition of mine. Completing my Professional Training year report was also a major achievement for me because it was by far the longest piece of work I’ve ever done at almost 20,000 words.

Having got a taste for working in an industrial setting, I am considering doing an EngD (Engineering Doctorate) after graduation, which allows you to conduct research within a company or organisation while still maintaining a foothold in education. In the long-term, I want to pursue a career in material and technology based chemistry.

Why not find out more about our programmes in Chemistry?

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