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Life and Health Sciences Themed Careers Week | 4th March 2019

By UCL Careers, on 26 February 2019

Life & Heath Sciences. 4th - 8th March 2019

We’re hosting a week of events to help you navigate the Life and Health Sciences Sector, and find out where you might fit within it.

What is the Life and Health Sciences Sector?

Well, it encompasses anything that aligns with Life and Health Sciences. That means it’s very wide-reaching – from drug development, patenting, marketing, and selling new therapies, to using interventions directly with patients, or communicating the latest developments in health science to policymakers and the public. That’s why we have four exciting panels lined up for you, where you can hear from people working in a variety of roles within the NHS, private companies, charities, and universities.

Our four evening forums are listed below:

Biology and Business – using scientific knowledge in a business context | 6-8pm Monday 4th March

Working for public and patient health outcomes | 6-8pm Tuesday 5th March

Careers in data science and lab research | 6-8pm Wednesday 6th March

Careers in science communication and science policy | 6-8pm Thursday 7th March

What will I learn from guest speakers?

Come along and listen to panellists describe their day-to-day work, their career journeys, and their top tips for anyone looking to enter the sector. Each panel event will also include a chance for you to ask questions at the end, both of the wider panel, and one-on-one with speakers. If you’re not sure how best to interact with alumni and guest speakers, we have a blog and a preparatory session to help you:

Making the most of Life and Health Sciences week – How to talk to industry professionals | 1-2pm Mon 4th March

How will I know if I’ll like a particular job?

Hearing first-hand accounts from people working in different roles can give you a clue as to whether you’ll like a job. But there’s no substitute for giving it a try yourself. And gaining experience helps you develop new skills, and tells future employers you’re clearly motivated.

That’s why we’ve organised opportunities for you to get a taster of two popular careers – Life Science Consulting and Medical Writing:

A Career in Medical Writing  – Experiential workshop by the European Medical Writing Association | 2-4pm Tuesday 5th March

Strategy Consulting in Healthcare and the Life Sciences – Experiential workshop by IQVIA | 2-5pm Wednesday 13th March

And if you’re ready to test something out on a longer term basis, why not search for Life and Health Sciences-related roles on our vacancies system? Below are just a few open for applications right now:

Medical Research Assistant – Owlstone Medical | Deadline – 16th March

Biotechnology or Biochemistry Associate Editor – CASTUS (India) | Deadline – 3rd March

Regulatory Sciences Associate – Southwood Research | Deadline 31st March

European Patent Examiners – European Patent Office (Germany/Netherlands) | Deadline 10th March

Medical Affairs Associate (one-year placement) – Bristol-Myers Squibb | Deadline 15th March

Sustainability Fortnight: What you can expect

By UCL Careers, on 8 February 2019

Sustainability is a big deal. It’s one of the most pressing challenges we face today and many of us want to get involved through impactful careers.

The UCL Careers Sustainability Fortnight is designed to give you insights into the roles, rewards and routes into this rapidly developing sector. Here can you develop you understanding of the business issues and global challenges of the sustainability sector, preparing you for career in the field.

Interested in tackling sustainability in NGOs, businesses and governments?

Employers look for graduates who can:

  • Analyse real-world situations critically
  • Understand international issues in a global world
  • Demonstrate ethical leadership
  • Work within different social contexts
  • Engage with a diverse range of people
  • Use resources and budgets wisely

If you have the skills needed to tackle global challenges, you will be well placed to find employment across the sector. Employers are looking for sustainability conscious employees  across the entire organisation – not just in ‘sustainability’ roles. Whether that’s understanding climate risks in an investment portfolio or Modern Day Slavery issues within recruitment roles.

What’s on:

  • Panel talks and lectures from sustainability experts and professionals
  • Q&A sessions so you can have your questions answered
  • Bike sale and maintenance events
  • UCL Sustainability tours
  • Hot-topic discussions
  • Business forums

What you will learn:

  • How do organisations define sustainability
  • Inform yourself with the chance to challenge business representatives at panel and networking events
  • What Corporate Social Responsibility really means
  • How to be an Environmental Auditor
  • What skills you need to be competitive in the sustainability job market
  • The future trends for the energy or construction markets
  • How different sectors are moving towards a sustainable future

Sustainability is a realistic, interesting and prosperous career path with has many routes in. With a broad range of roles available, there will be something to suit anyone with an interest in the sector.

Find out for yourself at one of our events!

  See what’s on and book your place today!


Chris Penny’s Communications Internship at Portland Press

By Weronika Z Benning, on 5 May 2016

Internships, placements, work shadowing….when it comes to selecting a career they’re all great ways to ‘try before you buy’. Some UCL PhD programmes contain a mandatory placement period, a few months where students must do something unrelated to their research. These prove invaluable to the students involved, so in this series of posts we hope to spread the career knowledge by speaking to three PhDs about their placement experiences.













Interview by Shadae Samuels, Placements and Vacancies Officer, UCL Careers.

Image taken from Chris Garcia.

Chris Penny is a current PhD student with the London Interdisciplinary Doctoral Training Programme.  He is based in Sandip Patel’s lab and his PhD project is studying the molecular physiology and signalling functions of an intracellular ion channel. Through Chris’ project he was able to experience writing papers and reviews, which piqued his interest in potentially pursuing a career in publishing. This made publishing the perfect option for his PIPS placement to provide him with the opportunity to gain new skills and find out as much as possible about the industry. Chris secured a 12 week placement with Portland Press, a leading provider of high-quality publishing and knowledge dissemination solutions. He was supervised by the Executive Editor, Clare Curtis.

How did Chris secure his PIPS with Portland Press?

Chris initially researched a large number of publishing houses, he speculatively sent his CV and cover letter; he would then follow up his application with a phone call to the organisation. He found this approach was quite time-consuming and did not yield a high response, so Chris reached out to his own network for contacts in the publishing industry. Luckily Chris had a friend who previously worked at Portland Press Ltd and they put him in touch with a member of the editorial team. Chris organised an interview, and he was offered an internship starting a few months later. Chris would advise anyone applying for internships to utilise their contacts and be persistent in following up with the organisation. Having a contact in the organisation really helps with getting your application noticed!

What did the company look for in a placement student?

Portland Press wanted someone who was enthusiastic, willing to learn, and able to ‘have a go’ at a variety of tasks, some of which were mundane and others that would be more challenging. It was good to have someone who had little or no experience in the publishing industry so that they did not arrive with any preconceived ideas. The only requirement they had was for the intern to have scientific knowledge.

What did Chris do on his placement?

Portland Press is the wholly owned publishing subsidiary of the Biochemical Society, and produces the Biochemical Journal and Clinical Science, among other titles. It is a really exciting time to work there, with both the Society and the Press going through a number of changes to their look, systems and processes. Chris’ role mainly consisted of qualitative and quantitative data analysis, building upon his lab skills in the context of publishing. This included carrying out extensive citation analysis, looking at which research is high profile and which areas could be improved. Helping with the peer review submitted articles, Chris was able to generate strategies for expanding the research that is published by Portland Press, and he helped with commissioning experts to write the hot topics of the week.

What did Chris gain from the experience?

The placement was an opportunity for Chris to experience the other side of academic publishing. From the placement Chris gained commercial awareness, which he found particularly useful as this experience is very difficult to come by during a PhD. He improved on his analytical skills, market research skills by soliciting reviews, launching new content and searching for peer reviewers. Chris broadened his scientific interests as he was exposed to research in areas he was almost completely unaware of previously.

How did the placement contribute to Portland Press?

Portland Press is going through a period of significant change both in organisational structure and in processes. The work Chris undertook provided some foundations for future development of the department, and helped the creation of an overall strategy. The Biochemical Society is committed to the advancement of science for academics and students. Part of its ethos is to foster education and student opportunities. Therefore being part of the BBSRC PhD placement programme was the perfect way to meet this for Portland Press.

Has the placement influenced Chris’s career direction?

Since the start of his PhD Chris always wanted to go into post-doctoral work, however he enjoyed the editorial and strategic aspects of his placement.  Therefore Chris would certainly consider joining an editorial board while in academia if possible, but would also consider working in publishing outside of academia. Chris has a better understanding of the publishing industry and hopes the experience will come in handy for articles he will publish in the future.

If you’re a UCL PhD or researcher wondering how to secure work experience or a more permanent post, book an appointment to speak with one of our advisers. And for advertised opportunities check out UCL Talent Bank and JobOnline.

Life and Health Sciences Week begins Monday 7th March

By Weronika Z Benning, on 2 March 2016

The Life and Health Sciences Themed Week begins next week! If you have not already signed up to come to any of the events, do so… now! Events are already well over half-full.

Meet representatives from KPMG, Adaptix Imaging, Bioline and Biotronics 3D at the Biotechnology panel on Tuesday; UBC, GSK, Galliard & Nyxeon, and One Nucleus will be attending the panel on pharmaceutical careers on Wednesday; and Thursday’s Public Health panel sees invited speakers from the International Consortium for Health Outcomes Measurement, a researcher with UCL and Novo Nordisk and a representative from the Greater London Authority’s Health team.

If you don’t really know what kind of job you’d like in the Life and Health sciences, then attending our seminar looking at the variety of career options and how to find them, on Wednesday at lunchtime is a must.

Find out more here: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/events/getinto/lifehealthsciences.

Applying for the NHS Scientist Training Programme, part II

By Weronika Z Benning, on 2 February 2016

One of our Careers Consultants recently interviewed two candidates currently on the NHS Scientist Training Programme. We’re sharing these interviews to help inform you about the value and opportunities available in the programme, and give you real-world insight into the experiences of current candidates. Last week we posted our interview with Aled Jones,  a finalist in the Bioinformatics stream. Read on for our interview with Heidi Kuoppama, during her first year on the Genetics Stream.

Applications for the NHS Scientist Training Programme have just opened. Find more information and apply here.


What made you apply to the STP?

I have an undergraduate degree and two masters degrees in science and I wanted to work in a lab, so in 2009 I started on the PTP, which is a two-year practitioner programme for technicians within the NHS, at the Cytogenetics lab at Guy’s hospital. I then spent another two years working as a technician within the same lab, and at that point I felt I wanted to do more; as a technician I was largely involved with lab and administrative work, with only a bit of analysis and interpretation. I applied to the STP because I wanted to gain a more in-depth understanding of genetics, and the science behind it, and I wanted to be able to interpret and report patient results.

What does your job involve?

As a qualified healthcare scientist, the bulk of my job will be interpreting and reporting patients’ results. The amount of labwork I’ll do will depend on how each particular lab is organised, but generally it will only be a small part of my job – maybe 10 or 20%. I’ll need to understand and be aware of what’s going on in the lab to be on hand for troubleshooting if something goes wrong. But most of the lab-based work might be when clinical scientists get involved in introducing a new test to the lab, or trying to improve existing techniques, R&D work.

As a trainee, I’m currently in the process of writing up my evidence for each of the competencies I have to fulfil as part of the training program, which involves a lot of sitting in front of a computer. But this will vary throughout the course of being a trainee – at other times I’ll be in the lab more. During the first year we do four rotations of three months each, across different labs; one in our own specialism, then three others. The three I chose were cellular specialisms; Cytology at St Thomas’, Reproductive Science at Guy’s, and ?!

As part of the STP you also study for an MSc in Healthcare Science. At the start of the first year we had an induction day where I got to meet lots of different STP trainees across all of the different disciplines, and we also had a week’s contact learning in Nottingham, where I was with all of the other Genetics trainees in my year. Later in the training I’ll also work on a research project relevant to my specialism, one that will hopefully benefit my lab.

What was the application process like?

Very competitive – it was a lot of work! I had NHS and PTP experience, as well as two Masters degrees, which was a good start, but I still applied twice! The first time I got to interview but wasn’t quite good enough, then I was successful second time around. The first step of the process is answering short essay-style questions. Answering those fully to make sure you stand out can take days. Then there are online reasoning tests, and if you don’t pass them you don’t get any further. I looked at a few example questions beforehand and thought it seemed quite easy, but some of the questions were very tough in the real test, mostly because you’re so pressured for time.

The next stage is the interview, which is a bit like speed-dating! There are four different tables with two interviewers at each, and all the candidates cycle through them in turn, changing table when the bell sounds. In my year there was a general science stand, two specialism-specific stands (so for me that was genetics), and then a stand on leadership, healthcare science and the NHS in general. You really get grilled on these stands, so you need to know a lot about what’s currently going on in your discipline, and in the NHS in general, and you need to be prepared to answer technical questions and be shown data. Then you’re given a mark for your performance on each stand, your scores are all added up, and you’re ranked against all the other candidates. Your rank will determine whether you’ll get a training place, and where that place will be.

Did you get your first choice of training location?

Yes I was lucky enough to get my first choice, which was the lab I already worked in. But I saw a few people who had to move across the country to take up places they were offered, which might not have been their first, second, or even third choice, so if the STP is something you really want to do, you may have to be flexible on location during your training.

What kind of experience is needed to get onto the program?

It’s a graduate scheme, so in theory all you need is a relevant undergraduate degree, however, it’s very competitive, and there are many applicants that meet the minimum criteria. In my intake I think there were about 16 Genetics trainees, and only one of them is a fresh graduate from university. About half of them have PhDs, and maybe around a third have worked as technicians in the NHS or in research.

What do you enjoy most about the STP so far?

I get to make a difference and help people through science. And I’m being challenged mentally; I have to innovate, and try to take my lab forward to provide a better service to patients, which is awesome.


What are the downsides?

Juggling the academic and the practical side of the training can be difficult, and you have to sacrifice your own spare time to get everything done. However, if you’re really passionate about the job, this isn’t too bad. Another key downside for people who like labwork would be the lack of lab time involved. I actually really enjoyed being in the lab when I was a technician, so I’ll miss it, but I’ve come to terms with it now!

The job can also be stressful at times. There’s a lot of work and tight deadlines to meet, and if something goes wrong, as scientists we have to be able to find a solution, otherwise we’ll be holding up the important work of the lab. But of course that’s also what makes it rewarding, how crucial the work we do is.


What advice would you have for anyone trying to get onto the STP?

I was lucky because I’d worked in NHS labs before, and although that’s not the case for all successful trainees, I would advise trying to get some NHS exposure, even if it’s just visiting a lab for a few hours. Talking to healthcare scientists, and reading relevant journal articles, will also help you to keep on top of developments in your field and in the NHS, which is important in the interview. I would also recommend practicing before taking the online tests, as you can definitely become quicker with practice.


NHS Scientist Training Programme (STP)

By UCL Careers, on 23 December 2014

This post originally appeared on the QM Jobs blog

The NHS Scientist Training Programme will open in January 2015. The STP is a graduate-entry programme for scientists, where you are paid a salary by the NHS while training.

Postgraduate training for the STP leads to a specifically commissioned and accredited master’s degree and certification of achievement of work-based training following one of nine themed pathways:

For more on the STP application process see here. And if you’re a scientist and want to talk about your career options, why not book an appointment to see one of our Careers Consultants? www.ucl.ac.uk/careers

Industry Insights from Biotech and Pharmaceutical Careers

By UCL Careers, on 12 December 2014

On 26 November 2014, UCL Careers brought together a panel of industry professionals to talk about their careers, share advice for students and graduates hoping to get into the Biotech and Pharmaceutical field.

Linsey Chrisman, has written a selection of their key insights and advice. The panel were:

  • Dr Jane Bentley, Executive Director Project Management & Global Oncology Operations Lead, Worldwide Clinical Trials / Institute of Clinical Research
  • Richard Bolton, Service Owner, IT Director, GlaxoSmithKline
  • Adam Manhi, Assistant Manager, Healthcare & Life Sciences, KPMG Life and Health Sciences
  • Tony Ring, Operations Manager, Abbott Diabetes Care

What’s happening in the industry?

  • It is an unstable time in the industry with companies reluctant to commit to long term spending and hiring on temporary contracts. Most of the hiring that’s happened at Tony’s facility in the past year has been on temporary contracts. Roughly a third of temporary hires get permanent jobs with the company.
  • Big pharma companies are shrinking the number of people they employ directly in the UK. Increasing amounts of work, including research and development, is being contracted out. Many jobs are still there – but they are in the smaller organisations which have contracts with big pharmaceutical companies, not in the big companies themselves.
  • Many small biotech companies are ‘virtual ‘, ie. a few founders without physical office space or a lab, and contract lab work out to other organisations. This might be contract research organisations or just organisations that have lab facilities, such as research institutes and universities.

Ways to get in

  • Companies in this sector are often looking for graduates to work in IT. This can be a way in to other roles.
  • Work in manufacturing can be a way in to roles in Research and Development and Quality Assurance.
  • Many companies use agencies to hire temporary staff. Research recruitment agencies that work with this sector, register and keep in touch with agencies proactively.
  • Contract research organisations often take on staff to help compile reports for regulators. These positions may not be advertised, so consider applying to organisations speculatively or registering with recruitment agencies.
  • Don’t get hung up on graduate schemes! There are very few in this sector. No one on the panel had ever done a graduate scheme. They all built experience in a combination of internships and temporary entry level jobs before getting into the job they were aiming for.

What are the biggest challenges facing the industry at the moment?

  • There are regulatory changes on the horizon. The FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) is expected to start requiring all of the raw data from clinical trials to be supplied to them in set formats. The UK MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency) and other regulatory bodies are expected to follow suit. It could be resource intensive to get the data to conform to mandated formats and companies are concerned about the costs.
  • Richard said one of the biggest challenges he saw in the industry was that ‘it’s getting harder to know what you know’. In other words, research and clinical trials produce vast amounts of data, and it’s a big challenge to store and organise it in a way that’s meaningful and useful, not just to the team that produced it but to other people within the company and regulators.

Please see the speaker profiles here. You can also get more information on this field on the Life and Health Sciences Week web page.

– Linsey Chrisman, Information Officer, UCL Careers

Sir Mark Walport: Careers in Science and Engineering within the Civil Service

By UCL Careers, on 17 November 2014

Recently we were very lucky to have Sir Mark Walport, Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government, come in and talk about careers within Science and Engineering within the Civil Service.  The event was chaired by Anthony Finkelstein, Dean of the UCL Faculty of Engineering.

A video of Sir Mark Walport’s talk can be found below or on our YouTube account

This video was brought to you by the UCL Careers Government and Policy week team.