Name: Susanne Gray
Degree and University: Paisley University, BSc Honours in Medicinal Chemistry
Placement: Controlled Therapeutics. Controlled Therapeutics won the ‘Best Work Experience Provider 10-250 Employees’ Category at the 2007/08 National Council for Work Experience Awards.
Why did you decide to do work experience? I completed a ten week placement at Controlled Therapeutics as part of my HND in Analytical Chemistry. I had previously worked as a pharmacy technician at my local pharmacy. Controlled Therapeutics develop, manufacture and licence pharmaceutical products and they offered me a chance to build on my pre-existing knowledge.
What did you actually do? During the placement I completed project work to fit the needs of the company. In particular, I carried out an optimisation study, and excipient compatibility study that in turn led to a stable formulation for a product that will be put on the market. After I graduated I was offered a full-time position at Controlled Therapeutics and I now work for the company as an Analytical Scientist. I feel that my work experience helped me get this position, as the company was able to see my commitment, enthusiasm, and abilities before offering me a job. However, I also feel the placement would have helped obtain a job within another company, had I not stayed at Controlled Therapeutics, because it demonstrated my commitment to the sector.
What did you most enjoy about the placement and were there any downsides?
A particular highlight of the work experience for me was being given my own project to work on, and the responsibilities and trust that came as a part of the project. I found that I was treated as part of the team, rather than a temporary employee. Experiencing the real working life of the company meant that I knew what to expect when accepting a full-time job there.The work experience programme was a thoroughly positive experience for me and I did not find any downsides to my experience.
What do you think you gained from your placement? The nature of project work meant that I was largely left to my own devices, allowing me to develop confidence in my own abilities, and gain real experience of the working environment.
What qualities do you feel you need to make a successs of placements?
From my experience, I feel that to get the most out of work experience, you need to be enthusiastic – it is important to make an effort to fit in. It is also important to show initiative and be pro-active during your placement – not only will this impress employers but it may also expose you to greater responsibility.
What would you say to other graduates thinking about doing work experience?
I would advise anyone who is offered a work experience placement to accept it, as it can open doors to a future career. I also recommend the Shell STEP programme, which I took part in following on from my initial work experience placement at Controlled Therapeutics.