• The Role
  • The Company
  • The Culture

    The Role

  • 1. To what extent did you enjoy your work placement or internship?
  • Illumina is a fantastic employer who really cares about employee satisfaction. We were entitled to all the same generous benefits as the full-time staff which helped us feel really valued. The placement itself was managed really well, from the induction, support, and opportunity to complete an important and interesting project as well as a short project offsite in a hospital.


  • 2. To what extent did you feel valued by your colleagues?
  • I felt extremely valued. A lot of the day-to-day work I was doing, helped to ease other people's workloads so of course they were very grateful. My project was very valuable to the company. I was part of our weekly team meetings and my opinions were asked for and listened to.


  • 3. To what extent were you given support and guidance by management/your supervisor(s)?
  • Although there was a lot to learn I never felt out of my depth thanks to the support of my team and supervisor. I had regular meetings with my manager to check that I was ok with my workload and was an opportunity to flag up anything I was struggling with. I also had great support from my project supervisor who gave me great guidance and answered all questions throughout my project. Also, every employee is so approachable at Illumina so I could really ask anyone anything quite happily!


  • 4. How busy were you on a daily basis?
  • This varied throughout the year. At the start, there were lots of on boarding activities, e-learning and meetings to get to know how the company works and what techniques were required in the lab. This was done really effectively and kept me busy. After than the business depended on how much work was being sent to us. When my project started, a few months in, I got to spend more and more time on it while still helping with day-to-day lab work.


  • 5. How much responsibility were you given during your placement?
  • Much more than expected. We were taught how to prepare samples and use the sequencing instruments and were supervised at the beginning. When we were competent were were trusted to carry out these activities on a regular basis. The project I did was of real significance to the company so I left with a real sense of satisfaction.


  • 6. To what extent did/will the skills you developed, and training you received, assist you in your degree studies and beyond?
  • I finished my year at Illumina with a much greater understanding about the array of scientific jobs within industry, which is not communicated well at university. I learnt new technical lab skills, how to troubleshoot problems, and well as soft skills like collaboration between different teams. I even assisted in the making of a video showing what my project achieved.


    The Company

  • 7. What was the general atmosphere in your office?
  • Very friendly and relaxed. I frequently chatted to members of the senior management team as they are not hidden away in offices. The office space is designed to facilitate a collaborative working environment and the attitude of all staff confirms this. Everyone will make time to help each other and share expert knowledge. Lots of social events within teams were organised throughout the year too.


  • 8. How well organised was the overall work placement or internship set up?
  • Very well. Being the first year of lab interns I expected that the program would need some adjustments but it was run perfectly. The Talent Acquisition team organised educational and recreational events for all the placement students across all departments so we got to know each other well. All the interns enjoyed their time at Illumina regardless of department so I think that says a lot about the company as a whole. They really cared about our feedback throughout the whole year too.


  • 9. In terms of personal training and development, to what extent did the company or firm invest in you?
  • I am grateful for all the development opportunities given to me. I was allowed to attend a large annual conference (3-days) with my team in Prague which was extremely interesting as we got to attend technical talks, I chose the Oncology stream which taught me about how Illumina is shaping the oncology field with its genomic applications. I was also enrolled on the official training courses for several of the sequencing instruments and library preparation workflows which gave me more in depth knowledge on those platforms.


  • 10. What were the perks on your work placement?
  • Subsidised Canteen

    Sports and Social Club

    Subsidised/Company Gym

    International Travel

    Financial Bonus

    Company Parties/Events

    Staff Sales/Staff Shop

    Above 25 days holiday



  • 11. How appealing are future employment prospects within the organisation?
  • I would definitely like to go back and work for Illumina again in the future. There are lots of different jobs evolving and new teams being created so I'm not sure exactly which position I would go back to but know I'd like to find one appropriate to my skillset.


    The Culture

  • 12. Was there a good social scene amongst any fellow placement students/colleagues?
  • Yes! Lots at the beginning arranged by the company. Some arranged for the interns like meals, punting, escape rooms. Other events organised by my team like cocktail making and meals. Some interns lived together which the company helped to organise by putting us all in touch with each other before the placement started. We often stayed after work to play squash or tennis together too.


  • 13. What was the cost of living and socialising in the area you worked in?
  • The cost of living is quite high in Cambridge but if you live in one of the smaller villages just outside then it is much more affordable. The placement is actually located in Abington, a village near Cambridge so my advice would be to live in a village between Abington and Cambridge eg. Trumpington. The generous wage paid by Illumina helps a lot!


  • 14. What was the Nightlife like in the area you worked?
  • I grew up in Cambridge so know it well. There are loads of good pubs, particularly nice ones along the river in the summer. Not a huge number of clubs as in other big cities but enough to keep you entertained for one year! We had some fun intern nights out.


  • 15. Were there many opportunities to get involved in activities outside of work?
  • I did the a Charity relay race in the city centre with colleagues. I also ran the Cambridge Half Marathon in March which you get early access to tickets if you provide a Cambridgeshire postcode. There are some casual sport clubs but you have to search a bit harder to find them. I found that there were enough work related activities, combined with using the fantastic gym and sport facilities at work that I didn't much time to look for any more activities.


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Placement Year (10 Months+)


South East

10th October 2019

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