I thouroughly enjoyed my time here at BAT. Not only have I developed life long skills, i have been able to work with some really amazing people, gained knowledge and understanding and developed as an undergrdauate employee. I really enjoyed working in the laboratory, learning new techniques.
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Right from the start of the placement I was made to feel welcome. Everybody made an effort to to talk to you , tell you about their work etc. A few months into the placement i was able to present to my team some data on some training completed on a specific cytotoxicity technique commonly used. At first this was scary but everybody made us feel super comfortable and gave very good feedback and useful suggestions to improve. Having been trained on a variety of techniques it has meant i have been able to occasionally help my other team members with their work and lots of colleagues were happy to assist me in mine as and when needed. The work i completed was valuable to the business, so I did feel like i was valued.
Whenever required, there is always somebody to talk to, guide you and support you. With monthly progress reviews every month with your supervisor, it gives you a chance to discuss any issues, what you really enjoy, don't enjoy, your progress and how you can improve. I found having these catch ups very useful and supportive.
All undergraduates are assigned a mentor to act as a 'buddy', whom you are able to arrange meetings with to discuss anything… literally anything. Additionally we were all assigned principle scientist mentors. I would arrange to meet with my to discuss specific scientific areas of interest to myself or relevance to my main project. They were also able to advice me on writing my new CV which was very helpful.
I never ever felt bored. There was always something for me to do. As I was working in a research based role, a lot of the laboratory work required me to manage my time effectively to balance both the lab work alongside your desk based activities. This is a skill i feel is very transferable and will definitely help me in my future studies and employment. Depending on your specific project, or projects you are involved with, determine how busy you are. I did feel there were periods at BAT, where i was extremely busy and periods where it would cool off and you can catch up on your other work other then that within the laboratory. So all in all, i felt pretty busy on a daily basis, but i would rather be busy then bored. Any spare time could also be spent shadowing other members of staff to learn new techniques or to increase your understand of other projects going on in your department
In comparison to university, you are given a lot of responsibility with the perfect amount of support. Within the first 2 weeks of placement i was left to go into the labs on my own to complete cell culture and maintenance, which is a routine technique completed within Bioassessment. This may have seemed a little scary at first, but myself and a few other undergraduates had been trained a few times by fellow staff members on specific techniques and lab practices until we felt comfortable enough to work in the lab on our own.
I believe the skills and training are extremely transferable to my future studies and even other industries. I have learnt various in vitro techniques that are applicable to both the pharmaceutical/ cosmetic industry, I have found myself learning things i had never expected to gain from my placement. These include presentation skills workshops and plenty of practice presenting has come with that. This will be very useful during my final year university when having to present for my dissertation. Report and abstract writing workshops and CS workshop were also provided.
I couldn't have asked for a better office to work in. I was with 3 different teams that made up Bioassessment. Everybody was nice and friendly, very happy to talk to you, help you etc. My office had a nice balance of being a fun, chatty environment and sometime a quite, calm atmosphere. It all depended on the day as everyday could be different. In addition the working atmosphere was of a high standard in both the labs and the office. The office was always filled with cakes sweets and treats during my time here, which i wish i was warned about. ( I have developed a layer of BAT fat).
Very well organised. During the initial months, all students were able to attend lots of meetings where we were introduced to various business functions to understand their importance and gave us a wider understanding of the business as a whole. This was a perfect opportunity for us to be with the other undergraduate students, meet various people around the business and slowly introduce us into a business working environment which i believe has been a big change to my university studies. The placement team at BAT have been awesome. They organised multiple opportunities for myself and the other students, pushed me in the right direction when needed and provided various opportunities that enable myself and the other students to develop our personal skills, and not just our scientific skills. Not only were they there to organise and support the placement programme, i believe they have supported us individually to talk about our work, individual projects and monitor our progress/development through catch ups. Overall a very positive placement programme is in place here.
Very happy to help us develop at BAT. I was lucky enough during my second month at BAT attend a 2 day course in London, to increase my knowledge of a specific bio-analytical technique (qPCR) that i would use later on during placement. I felt very lucky to attend this course and it was an opportunity i wouldn't have been provided with normally. Additionally if you have specific interests or want to learn specific techniques or go on a particular course, all we had to do was ask our manager and team managers. If it is feasible or you can receive training in house, BAT is more then happy to invest in you, and especially your personal development. I had the opportunity of completing an online e-learning project management course, which is very useful to both academia and industry.
Myself and fellow undergraduates were also able to travel to other sites including Cambridge and London Globe House (BAT HQ). A good experience to understand how the business works.
Many previous undergraduates are now currently working at BAT now. We are treated like full time employees during our time at BAT and BAT very often do look into hiring previous placement students. The whole placement year is treated like a very long interview with the hope of maybe being able to hire a placement student in the near future
There was a very good social scene amongst the fellow students. I believe i have made some life long friendships with the fellow students. A lot of us students lived together which meant we could socialise a lot easier after work and on weekends.
Within work, there was a good social scene. I would go for occasional drinks with the undergraduates and my team, in addition to team meals, which have always be fun. It is always good fun to socialise with your colleagues outside of a working environment.
Additionally with subsidised gym memberships, a lot of us student went to the gym before or after work, i don't know whether we can call this social but it was always fun, especially the classes and being able to mingle with various people from around the site :)
I found the cost of living in Southampton fine, especially with the wage we were given, i was definitely able to cope and enjoy myself.
Lived very close to Bedford place which has a selection of bars, clubs and restaurants for all tastes. A big perk is none of these were too far from our house:) There are also lots of nice pubs and bars around Southampton so it is definitely a bonus to travel a little or catch a taxi to some hidden gem around Southampton.
Sports clubs including football and badminton. Lots of gym classes you could attend including Insanity, Body pump, TRX etc
Subsidised tickets to go see shows, sports etc. I was able to go watch a Southampton football game for the first time which was super enjoyable.