I was enrolled on the year in industry programme this year, so my second year was loaded up with many blank application forms to different industries for both year in industry placements and summer internships. Even though I did get a few summer jobs unrelated to chemistry, I wasn’t successful with any year in industry placements.
The application process is different for different companies – it tends to have many stages from online tests to assessment centres and then the main interview.
The Interview’s I received
The interview was held at Queen Mary. The first part of the interview consisted of questions being asked about my CV – the work experience I did, my hobbies, how it relates to teamwork, communication, dedication, etc. Very typical and quite easy to prepare for. They also asked questions like why Roche, what would you learn from the placement, etc.
The second part of the interview was all chemistry based. So you really have to be very knowledgable with your first you content of organic chemistry. They also asked a lot of lab-based questions like what your favourite experiment was, describe the experiment, what was the aim of it, etc. You get a piece of plain paper in front of you to assist you if you would like to draw any molecular structures, chemical equations, the different reagents and reactants to convert one compound into another, etc.
This was a video interview – they asked about 10 questions all considering different aspects. The questions are timed, I believe you have 3 minutes to answer each question and once those 3 minutes are up, you cannot go back to re-record; the video to that particular question has been submitted. ‘If you could visit any country, which country would it be and why?’ was one of the random questions I got asked. But the rest of them were again, very general skill based questions.
This was a small company in Borehamwood. It was my first visit to a real industry and it really gave me an view of how the chemistry knowledge I learnt at university is used in real life. When you are in an undergrad lab, most reactions are designed to work, no matter what you do. Doing organic chemistry in industry, you are confronted with reactions that have not been tested before and the knowledge about how to handle those unknown reactions and the various ways of reaction control is very helpful and something that is not taught in an undergrad lab. So it was a great insight to see this.
I unfortunately wasn’t able to go to the open day where all the candidates were invited so I had to go on my own a week later. The interview was very informal and relaxing and the staff were really friendly.
What I learnt
Although the opportunity to gain valuable work experience in Synthetic and Medicinal Chemistry is an occasion not to be missed and would make me a candidate who stands out to employers after I graduate, I realised in the end, a year of industry placement was not exactly for me.
Visiting Symphony Environmental industry, I thought I’d love to work in that sort of environment, only to discover it wasn’t a career choice for me after all 😳 . The uni experience of studying Chemistry is very different to the real life working environment.
As much as I love my degree, I don’t really see myself working in the laboratory or industry after I graduate.
So, what do I want to do after I graduate? You’ll see soon in another blog post. 😉