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Choosing a career path from a placement year

Biochemistry undergraduate, Sukritpong Pakdeerat, talks about how his placement year has helped him decide what to do after his studies.

The main reason I wanted to do a placement is to explore my career path. I hoped to get a clearer idea of what I want to do after graduation. I was also hoping to gain some working experience which will increase my employability and look great on my CV.

Working at ALS Laboratories

My placement was at ALS Laboratories (UK) Limited, Trowbridge, a microbiological testing service for food and drink.

I chose the placement as I am interested in working in the microbiology field. Working at ALS gave me the opportunity to do just that. Many of the techniques that we used are the ones I have learnt from the University, so I was excited to implement them in a real work environment. You are also getting paid while working there.

My job title was Laboratory Technician and the day-to-day responsibilities are varied. We started in the morning by calibrating and setting up all the equipment. Once the equipment is ready, it depends what tasks you have been assigned to. In the main lab area, the jobs include weighing samples, diluting the samples, plating out diluted samples, and pouring the plates. If you have been assigned to work in pathogen lab, your jobs might be sub-culturing broths, operating Dynex DS2® ELISA Processor, or carrying out other tests.

How I benefited

I enjoyed working with my colleagues as they were very helpful and fun to work with. Another thing I enjoyed was the opportunity to do a variety of tasks which helped me learn more about bacteria.

Apart from microbiological laboratory skills, working effectively as part of a team and working under the pressure are two important transferable skills I cultivated during the year at ALS.

After working at ALS for a year, I realised that I would like to pursue working in the microbiology field and possibly in the business sector. It has also encouraged me to explore other types of business that involve microbiology besides the food and drink testing service.

Support from Bath

The placement team were amazing from the beginning of my placement journey. They helped me with my CV and covering letter. They gave me advice on which placement I should consider applying for. The team has set activities which help me reflect on my placement experience and make the most of it.

My advice for other students

My advice is to go for it and take a placement year. Doing a placement is very good practice for the graduate job race. With your experience, you will have more confidence when it comes to applying for a graduate job in the future.