Making career choices while on placement in Chicago

Biochemistry student, Philippa talks about her placement year working as a research assistant at the University of Illinois in Chicago.

Placement student working in the lab
Philippa enjoyed the independence she had on her placement to plan and carry out experiments

I spent my placement year in a lab in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics where I carried out on my own project, investigating the role of a particular protein in cancer biology.

Learning new skills and independence in the lab

I learnt new lab techniques and protocols and just how to carry out scientific research, which will be really useful for my final year project. I also began to understand that a negative result is just as good as a positive one - disproving your hypothesis can be just as beneficial as proving it.

I enjoyed the independence I had to manage my own time, and planning and carrying out my own experiments. Making new findings from all my hard work was really satisfying and I felt motivated and eager to carry out research the whole time I was there.

Defining my future

I would highly recommend a placement year to future students. It helped me grow as a person and figure out what I want to do in the future. I have now decided to pursue a PhD in cancer biology, which is the area I was working in during my placement.

I would advise anyone interested in going on a placement year to apply for what you really want to do and what interests you. Also, make sure you know what the placement is about before you apply so you can talk about it and related topics at the interview.

‘I would highly recommend a placement year to future students. It helped me grow as a person and figure out what I want to do in the future.’
Philippa Burns BSc Biochemistry including placement year (2019)

Find out what other students did on placement

Read student case studies