Kirsop Labs

Skills development for science students everywhere

Thinking about a summer placement?

Practical lab work can be a great way to apply your skills from your degree and get some hands-on experience in a real research environment.

Bagging a Summer Placement

It looks great on your CV, is brilliant for your LinkedIn page and puts you a step ahead of your peers.

Once you get your lab placement you’ll be contributing to something worthwhile, whether it be the synthesis of a potential drug molecule, data analysis or just great experience in purifying lots of compounds.

It’s all experience and experience is brilliant! Research is a very different ball game to lectures and labs, it’s personal. You can make a routine, set goals and learn a lot in a very short period of time. Research is what you make of it.

Here’s some advice on why you should carry out a placement and how to bag yourself one.

5 Things You’ll Take Away

An Understanding of the Peaks and Troughs of a Chemistry Degree

A chemistry degree is hard, let’s admit it. Sometimes you’ll have really great days in the lab when your synthesis goes to plan, and other days it can be really disheartening. By carrying out research independently, you start to understand more, you’ll learn new skills and challenge yourself on a daily basis.

A Better Developed Skill Set

Up until now, you’ve been following the lab manuals word for word to make sure you get the right end product. Independent research gives you the opportunity to produce your own work, so be creative! Discuss ideas with your supervisor, tweak certain techniques and learn new ones. The fume cupboard is your 2nd home at this point; make sure you know how all the equipment works and use it responsibly.

An Understanding of the Bigger Picture

Carrying out a small project for a Ph.D. student or member of staff is most likely going to be part of something larger, so learning about the bigger picture is going to be vital to how well you do. Take in all that you can; read background papers, look online, check the library. It may even help you out in lecture courses in later years. As they say, knowledge is power!

An Insight into Career Preferences

Chemistry is a vast subject where you can identify yourself based on the organic, inorganic or physical labels. It’s great to know where your interests lie; some people enjoy organic synthesis while others prefer to be analysing thermodynamic data or spectra. You could even mould your project to what you feel more drawn towards. You have time to decide where you want your chemical career path to take you.

The Chance to Make Invaluable Contacts

Working in a lab with Ph.D. students, you’re obviously going to see them on a daily basis. So get to know them! They can help you both during your placement and if you have a problem with your lectures or labs, they may be able to spare some time to guide you there too. Between the group members in a lab, there’s a lot of knowledge!

All of this is invaluable to your confidence and your future years. Eventually, you may find that you’re more capable than you think!

For other articles in this series, read How To Find A Summer Placement, and My Experience of a Summer Placement.

Posted under: Labs Skills

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