Starting my placement as a molecular virologist at Cefas

My name is Aleksandra, I’m an ambitious biomedical sciences student who travelled thousands of miles to pursue her dream career. Sounds familiar? Then, you are on the right page.

In this student blog I will openly speak about the transition from life as a full-time student to balancing work and life during my professional training year as a molecular virologist at Cefas.

Moving away for my placement

Starting from the very basics, moving away from the diverse, multinational environment of London city to a small town in South-West England was on its own an adventure!

COVID-19 restrictions were still in place and I had to leave my friends, who I hadn’t seen in ages, and right at the beginning of my work experience I could not find myself a place to stay! This, of course, brought additional tension to my already chaotic situation.

In fact, beginnings are more than chaotic when you are the epitome of a workaholic! I love my job and I feel driven to do more and get better at it within every day, taking into account the great deal of excitement and satisfaction it brings into my life. Perhaps, this would be more than great if it did not come at expense of a restless body and mind.
If you are highly work-driven, like me, keep on reading because I will try to provide an answer to the questions which I kept on asking myself!

How to deal with stress…

Over time, I added minute changes to my daily schedule, aiming to reach a better work-life balance. This is especially important for people who are used to taking their work home.

What is it like to be a student in a work environment?

As I said before, beginnings tend to be chaotic! I was fortunate enough to end up in the Research and Development team where I’m surrounded by experienced professionals with great personalities.

Of course, mistakes are inevitable! I taught myself the importance of having a sense of humour and self-irony which turned out to be my way to overcome my pedantic behavior!

In-fact I now understand that the best way to gain experience is to study from your mistakes and not be ashamed of asking questions. You are neither the first, nor the last to not close the door of the freezer property and be traumatized by the alarm! Hence, don’t be so shy, seek help, take a note and have a laugh!

My advice:

Be true to yourself and enjoy this year as you will find it to be very beneficial for your professional and personal growth! Lastly, don’t forget that this will all soon be a memory, so make the most of the opportunity.