My role as the Science Communication sandwich student has given me a chance to meet the sandwich students and discuss their time here so far, an opportunity that I have found very enjoyable. Being able to see the work that the placement students are doing here and how they are settling in to their new roles here at the ISIS facility has been greatly fulfilling. This feature will offer an insight into three students undertaking a placement year at ISIS, and what they hope to gain from their time here.
- Shaun Olok-Jacobs is studying Chemistry at the University of Bristol and is working as a synthetic chemist at ISIS
- Madeline McRoberts is studying Chemistry at Glasgow University and is developing online scientific training for neutron and muon experiments.
- Jared Swift is studying computer science with artificial intelligence at the University of Leeds, he is at ISIS as a Python scientific software development.
“What do you do in your job?"
Shaun: I develop methods of making electrolytes for lithium ion batteries
Madeline: I create online learning resources for muon experiments conducted by the muon group aimed at members of the scientific community who wish to advance their knowledge of muons.
Jared: I'm currently working on a project called GudPy which will end up replacing the current user interface used on GudRun, the software used in neutron scattering experiments.
“What is the most exciting part of your role?"
Shaun: Due to covid, we were unable to have much time in the lab, however since starting I have been in every day! I love working in a hands-on role and actually doing the chemistry.
Madeline: How far reaching the content I create is. It is amazing to know that the resources I out online are seen internationally!
Jared: the idea that what I am working to create will be used by, and help, a large group of scientists conducting proper research.
“What is the most challenging part of your role?"
Shaun: There's been a lot to learn; how to use machines, proper techniques to plan experiments – doing things the proper industry way as opposed to how we have done things at university.
Madeline: I've encountered a lot of PhD level science so far, so it has been tough trying to understand it all before I'm able to use it to create resources.
Jared: Trying to understand the science that I am building my software to do. Coming from a computer science background I'm finding the science difficult, but very interesting!
“What attracted you to apply to the role at the STFC/ISIS?"
Shaun: It's a very interesting place, it encompasses all of STEM not just one area, and I find it very exciting. The Resources and people are all unique and the strong student presence makes it an extremely pleasant environment to work in.
Madeline: ISIS is at the forefront of cutting edge science. It has national and international recognition and conducts ground breaking research. The fact that I'd be working for an organisation which is known worldwide definitely attracted me to ISIS.
Jared: I have always been interested in science, but chose to study computer science at university instead. I was really attracted to ISIS as it bridges the gap between the two fields, I was also really impressed by the work and resources ISIS has and uses.
“What do you hope to gain from the placement?"
Shaun: I'd like to get experience of industrial application of the chemistry that I've studied at university. I also hope to improve my key skills for work: communications, presentation skills and time management.
Madeline: I'd like to develop my core skills key to working in a professional environment. I also want to experience the research being undertaken at ISIS, it will help me progress with my degree when I return to University as I'll have seen the real life applications of the subject I am studying.
Jared: I'd like to go back to university with a greater knowledge of software development, as well as having experience of being in a workplace environment and gaining understanding and knowledge of the new technologies we use here.
“How do you think your attitude to work has changed since starting your placement?"
Shaun: To begin with I was very nervous, it was my first ever job and I was definitely unsure of how I should ask for help and support with my work. I now feel comfortable and confident and actively seek to ask questions to help me better understand and improve my work.
Madeline: I definitely think that I have become far stricter with myself when it comes to time management. I am a lot better now at getting my work done within the working hours unlike at university when there were no set times.
Jared: I find that in general I am quite motivated, however, since starting work here I have found myself to be more engaged with the work than I expected and actually look forward to coming into work on Mondays!
“Do you have any career aspirations?"
Shaun: I'm thinking of doing a PhD in synthetic Chemistry after I complete my masters at University, but other than that I'm pretty undecided.
Madeline: I'm currently open to all avenues, my work at the STFC is able to show me the real-world application of my degree and during my placement I'm looking to gain good experience that will help me make a decision later on.
Jared: At the moment it's more ideas than aspirations, I'd like to do a masters and maybe a PhD but currently no solid plans after my degree.
“What's something you wish you knew before you came to work at STFC?"
Shaun: Sometimes they'll be bad days, you may be finding a current task difficult or stressful, but there's so much support available that there's no need to worry as you can always get the help you need.
Madeline: It's a lot more relaxed than I was expecting! I thought the working environment would be more stressful but I find the workplace very enjoyable and nowhere near as daunting as I once thought!
Jared: Before I started I was nervous that I wouldn't be able to actually do the work I was coming here to do, but I now really feel as though I'm capable of doing my job. I think if I knew before I came how friendly the working environment is then I wouldn't have had those doubts and fears to begin with.
Further information about the variety of opportunities that STFC offers undergraduate students can be found by following this link: https://www.careersportal.co.uk/UKRI-careers/jobs/search/220920