Charlotte Stevenson

Charlotte Stevenson

What is the name of the company you work for and what do they do?

I work for F.Hoffman-La Roche, more commonly called Roche. They are a leading global pharmaceutical company that specialises in discovering and bringing to market novel medicines to achieve their mission statement: 'Doing now what patients need next'.

What is your role within the company?

I am a Medicinal Chemistry intern in the Pharmaceutical Research and Early Development (PRED) department. I am a fully integrated member of a lab team of 4 consisting of a lab head, two other scientists (one being my supervisor and font of all knowledge) and myself. I am involved directly in designing synthetic routes and molecules for potential new drug treatments.

Can you give me an insight into a typical day?

I wake up at 06:15 and get the bus at 07:15! My lab get in very early but it's okay as it means we leave a bit earlier! Every other week or so we have a 'breakfast' where employees can network, eat croissants and drink coffee! In the labs we set up reactions, use analytical machines, have project meetings and keep everything documented on electronic laboratory notebooks. Some lunchtimes we have 'lunch dates' with other employees or our lab which is the Roche way of networking and staying in touch. Twice a week I take a yoga class at lunch. On Thursday afternoons we have a tuition course where we improve our organic chemistry, do group work and present. Then off home at 17:00/17:30. If we need to do a food shop, we take a 5 minute walk over the bridge into Germany as food is a LOT cheaper there! 15 out of 16 of us interns all live together in a big set of apartments with a shared living room and kitchen, we all cook together, chill together and discuss the day's chemistry then time for bed ready for another early start.

What do you enjoy the most and do you get involved in any interesting projects?

I really enjoy working with my lab team as they're all so friendly and I learn so much from them, so going into work each day is enjoyable as it is! I'm working on a really interesting project right now,  but I'm afraid I can't tell you what I'm working on as it's all strictly confidential!

Why did you want to undertake a year in industry?

I wanted to find out what Chemistry was like in a real-life setting as I've only ever known it from school or university and it is COMPLETELY different! In my second year of uni I was doubting my love of Chemistry just because university laboratory work can sometimes be frustrating but already within one week, going into an actual lab is a whole new, exciting world. I wanted to go abroad and experience working and living in a different culture, working in a multicultural company and everyday setting to improve my language skills and to build on my confidence and networking by making new friends and meeting new colleagues. I also look forward to expanding my Chemistry knowledge and practical skills to become a more competent and confident chemist.

What do you think you have got out of this experience so far? 

Having only been at the company a week, I haven't done much practical work but I have already learned how to use the GC machine, built my confidence by reaching out to new people to network and enjoyed a lot of free coffee!

Do you have any tips and advice to current students thinking of undertaking a year in industry?

Go For It! If you're thinking about doing a year in industry then it definitely means somewhere deep down you're intrigued to find out what it's all about. I always think it's better to think 'Oh well' rather than 'What if'. So start writing your cover letters and CVs early (I started in the summer before second year so I didn't have the stress of writing them once lectures started), READ the job adverts and customise your application accordingly, be YOURSELF in the interview and don't be afraid of change! You'll meet so many friends, gain so much experience and have one amazing year.