Embarking on a laboratory placement as an undergraduate student presents an exciting opportunity filled with invaluable insights. Acquiring hands-on experience in the field of science proves to be a beneficial addition to your degree when building future academic and career profile. It is a helpful way to help students make themselves stand out among peers. Participating in a placement will provide many benefits. Here are a few examples,
1. Establishing Connections and Relationships
During a placement, interns will have the opportunity to connect with a diverse array of professionals, each with their unique experiences and insights. These connections can serve as valuable mentors, providing guidance and advice that may not be attainable in a classroom setting. Building a robust network of contacts can open doors to a multitude of future opportunities, especially in a competitive industry (1). Interactions with industry and other research visitors in the group, will also provide you with the opportunity to build your network.
2. Active Learning and gaining new skills
Placement opportunities are essential for gaining a practical understanding of working in a laboratory. While Universities provide the theoretical foundation, placement immerse individuals in real-world tasks and responsibilities, encouraging skill development and a deeper insight of the industry. Placements bridge the gap between theory and practice, preparing individuals for a successful career that combines academic knowledge with real-world skills (1).
3. Boosting self-assurance
A summer placement provides significant benefits by strengthening self-confidence and self-satisfaction in the lifelong learning process. As an intern, new skills in an environment that is not as stressful as a permanent job can be tested. The main task during a summer placement is to learn new skills; therefore, there is no pressure to perform well in a task. This relieves stress and allows individuals to develop confidence in their ability. (2) Lab placements offer invaluable self-discovery, helping understand personal capabilities, enhance problem-solving skills, and refine communication abilities. Engaging in real-world projects nurtures confidence and adaptability, providing a strong foundation for future success in the scientific field.
4. Research Contributions
Placements offers access to special resources, laboratories and equipment that might not be available to use in academic setting. Additionally, research conducted during placement may lead to publications or presentations at conferences, which can enhance an individual academic and professional portfolio. This experience will not only deepen understanding of the industry but will also provide a pathway for future collaborations and opportunities.
5. Enhancing employability
Gaining transferable skills from a placement to future careers will make an excellent CV addition, especially when starting out a new career. Placement can help individuals to enhance employability as they can showcase their work on their resume and develop the confidence of handling specific duty effectively. In addition, there is the possibility to turn the placement into a full-time job or continue for a PhD with the same topic once the degree has been completed. In case of placements with industrial collaborators, companies might consider the individual for a full-time position if are satisfied with their performance (1)(2).
In summary, a lab placement offers various learning experiences that enriches academic and professional growth, strengthens confidence, and opens doors to a promising future in the field of science.
By Emily Vong