Student Case Study: University of Exeter Research Assistant

Name of Student: Francesca Southern

Degree Subject: Biochemistry

Type of Internship: Access to Internships (A2I)

Company Name: University of Exeter

Job Title: Research Assistant

What were your key duties and responsibilities during your internship?

Continuing research on mitochondrial DNA epigenetics in neurodegenerative diseases and generally assisting in the lab by tidying, sorting deliveries and helping on other projects

What was your biggest achievement on your internship?

I discovered a recent article publication that suggested an alternative way of research, we practiced that alternative method, and it gave the best results we have had so far. This increased my confidence and independence in the lab.

What did not go so well on your internship? How did you overcome any challenges?

I think the main challenge for me was having the ability to work consistently over the week. A lot of the internship required creative thinking surround lab methods, this in addition to long days in the lab made it test my resilience and critical thinking skills. I spoke to my colleagues about how best to get a routine going in the lab and from that they advised me about how to manage my workload and rest when outside the lab. I was then able to quickly improve my consistency and make fewer mistakes.

Skills Learnt: 

  • Ability to Work Under Pressure
  • Organisation
  • Decision Making
  • Researching
  • Time and Workload Management

Attributes Developed:

  • Initiative
  • Perseverance
  • Professionalism
  • Confidence
  • Motivation

Your message to other students considering a similar job role, organisation or sector?

“Overall I had an incredibly positive internship experience. The one thing that stood out to me was how great it felt to be part of a team. A lot of the time undergraduate work is independent so I wasn’t used to working with a team every day. There was a lot of support from everyone in the research group, PhD students were interested in how my study was going and vice versa so I felt I learnt a significant amount through communication with other members of the research group. I felt I gained an insight into the working world and it made me excited for future employment.”