Stumbling into science
"I was good at Biology at school, and stumbled into a Biology degree. Genetics is what I then found most interesting at university. After graduating in 2011, I started looking for genetics work experience in London, and an opening came up at GOSH. It wasn't a formal application process at the time. I emailed the department and was invited in to have a look around. I then came back and did two months of work experience here. My main responsibility was to set up a new test. At GOSH, we test for genetic disease in adults and children from across the North Thames region and children from GOSH. We do core tests such as cystic fibrosis and familial hypercholesterolaemia. Because we’re a specialist hospital, we do a lot of specialist tests as well – immunodeficiencies, hearing loss, epilepsy, to name a few...
"After I finished my work experience placement, I applied for a full-time job and started working at GOSH a few months later. It was as a research technician, working on a project screening children for familial hypercholesterolaemia, which was a research project run by Queen Mary's University. I then became a full-time genetic technologist doing diagnostic lab work. This lasted for three years. I've been a scientist for over three years since then, which is more focused on data analysis and writing reports."
A typical career path
"My career path is a typical career path. Gaining some lab experience, and whilst in that role gaining experience of analysing and interpreting data - there's a logical progression. Thanks to GOSH, I've always been progressing and developing and I've had great training opportunities. I achieved my clinical scientist registration this year which is good. This is what I was always working towards. It's a six-year training programme – three years as a technologist, and three years as a pre-registered scientist. As part of the final assessment you create a huge portfolio of your six years’ worth of work. You submit and then if it’s accepted you have an interview where they assess you on the content of the portfolio."
Working at GOSH
"GOSH is a great place to work and has a great reputation. You feel involved and like you're making a difference. Genetics is also really important. It can help us tease out what is going on with the patients and help to pinpoint areas for treatment. You feel like you're part of a wider process to help improve quality of life. There aren't many patients seen only by Genetics, they are usually seen by a number of other medical disciplines as well, so you feel involved in a wider community.
"My advice to people at the beginning of their career would be: Don't be afraid to try work experience. It opens up whole realms of opportunity and possibility. If something doesn't suit you, try something else. I had no idea I would enjoy this career path initially, but I love it."
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