In today’s competitive graduate labour market, and specifically in science-based roles, it’s increasingly important to gain work experience during undergraduate degrees. Many graduate scientists find it difficult to obtain work in labs, often because they lack the technical skills and experience to back up their strong theoretical knowledge.
In Highfliers’ ‘Graduate Market in 2019’ survey, over a third of the recruiters warned that “graduates who have had no previous work experience at all are unlikely to be successful during the selection process for their graduate programmes.” They noted that this was “irrespective of their academic achievements or the university they had attended.”
Safe to say that gaining work experience during your degree makes a BIG difference in securing a graduate job or a place on a Masters or PhD programme.
Work experience can be a day spent shadowing a researcher in a lab, a 12-month industrial placement, or anything in between. Whether your experience is paid or voluntary, short or longterm, it all counts!
Science-based roles are becoming increasingly multidisciplinary, so your work could be as part of a team of other scientists, as well as commercial functions like marketing and sales.
“We need people with interpersonal skills as strong as their science.”
Head of R&D Recruitment, GSK
Many organisations offer formal work experience to undergraduates (aiming them at second-year students onwards), which are advertised in the autumn term for the following summer. These are usually highly competitive, so do your research, put time into making a quality application, and apply early!
Search by location, type of work and register for jobs by email. Find information about a career in health.
In addition to the lab-specific links above, there are many other scientific job boards and resources to check for lab-based opportunities and experience. See our guide “Scientists Seeking Employment”.
Organisations might not have a good Google rank, meaning that good opportunities might be buried in the depths of the internet. Research employers to approach speculatively and keep up with industry news:
Keep an eye on newspapers and sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google News, too –
“When you see ‘fund’, think ‘jobs’ - if money comes into a company, they're likely to be hiring.”
Examples include: Life Sciences Discovery Fund and Wales Life Sciences Investment Fund
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· In addition to the lab-specific links above, there are many other scientific job boards and resources to check for lab-based opportunities and experience. See our guide “Scientists Seeking Employment” at mmu.ac.uk/careers/guides.
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