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29th April 2020

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Experience of a Biocats Placement Student

Author: Debrani Chakroborty.
Role: Student Work Placement – Technical
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I’m Debrani Chakraborty, the Placement Student at Biocatalysts Ltd. I am currently studying Genetics and Biochemistry BSc at Aberystwyth University, the year in an industry scheme is to gain experience and have an idea on the type of graduate job I would like to continue with. I started applying for relevant jobs in 2019, most of which were lab based while some others in Sales and Marketing.

My placement mentor had recommended I apply for Biocatalysts and after a successful phone interview, I was invited to Cardiff for the second round. I found the interview process to be very efficient and well organised. Although I had applied for a wide variety of posts, and had a few roles to choose from, Biocatalysts was my first choice mainly due to the role description and how comfortable I felt during my interview.

My first day was 1st July 2019 and as nervous as I was, I was happy to see that three other new employees were attending the induction training with me. Everyone at Biocatalysts is extremely friendly and welcoming so, despite it being my first full time job, it was very easy for me to fit in and be a part of the Biocats family. The training and development process was very instructive and well planned; I was able to learn without pressure and practice several times before carrying out important assays. It helped to build my confidence as support is always available from anyone in the company.

To help me fit in and feel comfortable, I was introduced to the previous placement student who trained me on the work and standards of Biocatalysts; since he was in the same position on his first day, he was very understanding and patient. By working for Biocatalysts, I have gained valuable hands-on experience in a laboratory setting, where I feel lucky to be fully involved in an important strategic project, working towards the development of a novel enzyme. The highlight of the year so far has been developing a new protocol for viscosity measurements where I was able to apply both theoretical and practical knowledge to my experience. Although certain tasks are repetitive, in my role, it has helped me refine my accuracy skills in specific areas. Now, I feel capable handling most of the laboratory equipment and skilled in several assay procedures focussing on enzyme manufacturing and development. This placement has strengthened my CV as I will have several transferable and technical skills and competencies before I graduate. These include several protein assays, activity assays, chromatography, microbiology techniques, media making, report writing, communication and team working etc. I am always encouraged to understand the science behind every assay we perform, and this has made working in a laboratory very interesting for me while exploring the wonders of science. Recently, I have had the opportunity to gain significant experience in Regulatory work whilst home working during the coronavirus pandemic.

Going forward into the final year of university, I won’t have to struggle with understanding the practical aspects of my course. In my second year of university, we had protocol development assignments which we had to perform in-lab and procure results. I used to find these very difficult such as certain lab techniques that limited my execution of the protocol due to lack of experience. However, halfway into my placement, I have developed the techniques to successfully carry out experiments with little to no errors and getting better as I learn from other scientists with PhDs and experts in microbiology and similar disciplines in the same lab. I’ve been very happy to see my voice is heard at Biocatalysts and any opinions and ideas are welcome. It’s been nine months now out of my fourteen-month placement and I am looking forward to my remaining time at Biocatalysts Ltd.

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