Testing products on cells using systems biology techniques.
I really enjoyed my time at BAT. The people are all really friendly and want you to make the most of your time there. I was lucky enough to land in a really supportive and talented team that thought me more than I could ever have learned at uni.
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I was allowed to settle in for a while at the beginning of the placement but once I got going I was a part of a lot of the teams work. I was given my own responsibilities and jobs to do both in and out of the lab. I was also asked to do work for different teams which was interesting.
I had university requirements for my year of placement which included reports and a reflective essay. My manager and team helped me every step of the way by taking the time to review and edit my work but also give me constructive feedback on what could be improved.
It varied. The first month or two were really slow. There were a lot of inductions which were helpful but not a lot to take up the days. Once the team project got under way in November it became really busy. And again in March with the next team project. Between projects was slow but that's when I did my university work or shadowed members of other teams or departments.
I was given more and more responsibility as time went on. Once I had been trained and taught new skills, I was allowed to perform lab work and small projects independently. I was also trusted enough to fill my free time with what I thought would be beneficial and productive for me.
I learned so much at BAT. Being at work and being at uni are so different. I developed a lot of skills including time management, communication and taking initiative. I also took courses like minitab (statistical) training and a project management course. I can take most, if not all of those back for my final year at university and any job I go in to once I've done that.
It varied. It was generally a good atmosphere as most people in the office are friends or have known each other for years. There were times that the office was quiet and a bit miserable but not often. Everyone was really friendly though and always willing to help if you needed it.
It would have been nice to start earlier and finish earlier rather than September to September. All the placement students got to meet in August before the placement started so that was nice. Once we actually started there were lots of inductions but nothing to actually keep us busy between that so maybe that could have been organised better. There were small things throughout the year that could have been organised better but no huge issues.
I got a lot of lab training which I never would have otherwise gotten. That's going to really help when I go back to uni as I am doing a lab based degree. Apart from that I learned a lot about scientific writing through having to write reports for uni which the team really helped. I also did a presentation, CV and interview skills workshop. There was a training and development website that you could access different classes from once your manager gave approval.
I guess it depends on timing and if the job is right. I really enjoyed my time at BAT and would go back if I was asked. There are a few former students working here so it's been nice to talk to them about their experiences and why they have come back.
We were lucky enough that all of the students got along. We lived in two houses near each other so spent a fair amount of time together! There's not a huge amount to do in Southampton though. If you can I'd recommend getting on the train or driving at weekends to other towns around Southampton like New Forest, Portsmouth and Winchester. We didn't spend as much time socializing with colleagues.
Rent was decent, cheaper than at uni. We did things like the cinema, bowling or laser quest as different social activities and they weren't too pricey. The issue was the lack of things to do. Again, getting the train to places outside of Southampton is reasonable (except London).
Southampton nightlife is not very good! There's an area called Bedford Place that is alright but over-rated. There are chains like Turtle Bay and Vodka Revs which are ok but a bit expensive. It's hard to go out during the week because of work so you don't get to student nights...
If you wanted to you could. I don't play sports but other students played football, squash, netball and rugby with and outside of work. There's also a gym on site which was really handy. It was a really good price and there were two or three classes on a day.