- Course: Medicinal Chemistry with a Year in Industry MChem, BSc
- Job title: Chemistry R&D intern
- Company: Diversey - Netherlands
What is the name of the company you work for and what do they do?
The name of the company I work for is Diversey. The company provides a range of hygiene solutions that have many applications. For example, a few of the categories are: kitchen hygiene, infection prevention, personal care and SURE (a plant based 100% renewable range).
What is your role within the company?
I am a research and development Chemistry intern so my role is to assist the R&D team when they’re trying to develop and improve both new and existing products.
Can you please give me an insight into a typical day?
My placement is in Utrecht and since cycling is big here, I cycle to work in the morning and arrive at 9am. My first task for the day might be to formulate a product if it needs testing so I would begin by checking whether we have all of the required materials and then head to the labs. The formulation would usually take around 2 hours, which would probably lead me up to lunch which is at 12pm. There are 7 interns here, both from the UK and from the Netherlands so we all tend to sit and have lunch together and then get back to work around 1pm. The afternoon might involve more time in the labs or time spent analyzing the results, however, since being here, I haven’t had two days the same. As you can imagine, working full time every day can be quite tiring, so in the week after work I like to go home and relax, or sometimes the interns will do something together like go out for tea or a couple of drinks but I save most of my socializing for the weekends at which point we almost always do something together.
What do you enjoy the most and do you get involved in any interesting projects?
I enjoy spending time in the labs most because it’s the place that I feel like I learn the most and especially because it’s quite a big company in Europe, they have a lot of technology that we don’t see at Uni but I feel that the experience that I’ll gain from using it will be valuable for potential employers in the future. I do get involved in interesting projects, particularly because my main project for the year is an innovation project which means it’s new for the company too which is exciting!
Why did you want to undertake a year in industry?
A year in industry provides a change from university life for a year and the opportunity to meet new people in an exciting new environment. From an academic point of view, I thought that undertaking a year in industry would greatly improve my confidence when working in the labs and I would get to see what a real professional environment is like, and also my placement is in the Netherlands and many employers view international experience as a massive advantage.
What do you think you have got out of this experience so far?
So far, I have definitely gained more independence, I think this happens when you start university as most people leave home for the first time, but for me this happened the most now because I’ve moved to a different country and started a new job. I have already put some of the chemistry that I’ve learned at Leeds into real life situations, but I’ve also learned new aspects of chemistry that aren’t taught at university, but are relevant in the chemical industry of today, which will potentially make me more employable. At Diversey, the interns are considered as members of staff and we are encouraged to speak up if we have any ideas and to challenge our supervisors! All of my co-workers are really friendly and I feel valued here, which has already greatly boosted my confidence. Also, since my placement is in the Netherlands I’ve been lucky enough to do some weekend trips around Europe whilst I’ve been here along with the other interns, we’ve been to Paris, Cologne and Copenhagen so far.
Do you have any tips and advice to current students thinking of undertaking a year in industry?
Do it!! I am already certain that it will be the best decision of my university life. My advice would be to apply as early as you can as some of the deadlines for big companies can be as early as November, and for as many as you can. Don’t get disheartened if you do get a few rejections because the process is very competitive and in most cases you are competing with students from all over the UK but if you keep going like I did, I’m sure you’ll find one that you’ll love, just don’t give up. Don’t be put off if there is a placement in another country, embrace it! It’s not often that you would get the opportunity to embrace a new culture and learn whilst you do it!