"My placement gave me an insight into the police work conducted behind a crime or death. Analysing post-mortem samples and seeing the effects of certain drugs on people really fascinated me and gave me the opportunity to explore the toxicology world in depth."
CourseChemistry with Forensic Investigation BSc (Hons)
Placement companyAnalytical International Services Ltd
What were you doing on your placement?
As a laboratory technician, my role mainly involved assessing stock and meeting ISO17025 standards to ensure the lab general requirements for the competence to carry out tests and/or calibrations, including sampling, were up to date and met.
I was also responsible for admission and patient record management, and sampling and safe handling of specimens for drug tests and validation for clinical trial samples.
What was the most unusual and/or exciting thing you did while there?
The placement gave me an insight into the police work conducted behind a crime or death. Analysing post-mortem samples and seeing the effects of certain drugs on people really fascinated me and gave me the opportunity to explore the toxicology world in depth.
What was the most important thing you learnt from the experience?
Time management was one skill that definitely improved with the placement. Given that the samples that had to be analysed had a quick turnaround time and the results had to be out in a timely manner meant there was little room for errors and delays.
"To anyone doing a placement I’d suggest using any networking opportunity you have to learn from people with broad knowledge of the subject as that can be helpful in the future."
Was it hard to do a 9-5 job after being a student?
The transition was not easy; you have to adapt quickly, and no one really prepares you for it as it is a really personal transition. Some social aspects of the student life kind of fade after a bit as well and you find yourself in the real adult world without a proper guide. Thankfully both my family and the University supported me loads so the transition wasn’t that bad.
Describe your placement in three words.
Knowledge. Challenge. Experience.
How has doing a placement affected your university experience? Was it hard to settle back into life as a student?
Coming back to university was exciting and didn’t feel too hard. It was nice to see old friends but also have the change to meet new people. The placement made me rethink my path and my goals have changed because of it. I’ve had a chance to try something that I probably would have missed out on if I hadn’t taken a placement year. The experience is definitely helping me in my final year project.
Do you feel your studies benefited from being on a placement?
Definitely! I am more independent during lab work and my knowledge on specific instruments has increased considerably. Also, I am now able to assess the risks inside a lab and understand the consequences that each action taken in the lab can lead to.
What advice would you give to someone considering doing a placement at Surrey?
Don’t let the world of work scare you. Embrace it and challenge your knowledge every day to make the most of it!
What are your career plans after graduating? Did your placement inform those plans?
The placement has given me the desire to broaden my knowledge. I am thinking of continuing my studies by doing a masters and hopefully after that I’ll find the right career path.
Find out more about our Chemistry with Forensic Investigation BSc/MChem courses.