M(sci) Biochem to Research Assistant Career Profile
Journey in 3 Words: Deliberate, Innovative, Challenging
Briefly describe your role: A typical day for me is mostly lab-based, growing generated cell lines in culture, and maintaining them in their optimal conditions. I then harvest these cells, running experiments on them to see for example their gene expression dynamics (qPCR analysis), or running western blots. I also do some admin/lab management work, liaising with company representatives, as well as some science communication on social media (@seuninscience)
Which parts of your role do you enjoy the most and what are some hard truths you have had to face in the role?
Enjoy the most: Tissue culture- culturing and maintaining the cell line we work with. Most people do not like TC, but I love it. Happy cells = good experimental data!
Some hard truth I face in role is regarding the lack of representation of BAME (females especially) in higher roles in academia. Granted, it is not direct to my actual role as an RA, but it is an issue that academia currently suffers from/
What transferrable skills do you use from your degree now in your job.
Communication! So important in this field, this ranges from the big picture- communicating your research with an audience (specialist or lay) and down to the simple day to day activities ie when organising an experiment with lab members
Teamwork- also fundamental! Especially when the team is working on one big project- everyone really has a role to play
What motivated you to pursue a career in science. Frankly, I have always loved science, and I was good at it! So, it was almost a no brainer for me to purse a career in science. However, I originally wanted to do Medicine. However after, applying and getting rejected, I did a Biochemistry Degree (MSci) instead and was exposed to the academic field (working in a lab), which I absolutely fell in love with and decided to pursue that instead. And I have not looked back (yet?)
What is most important when choosing a master’s degree. If you are considering a Master degree, this means that you have completed, or are about to finish your first degree. Hopefully the first degree would have trained and developed you as a person, to really probe which potential career path you are willing to take. Your Masters degree, as much as possible, should be a springboard to the career you hope to pursue. Use the experience from your first degree to gauge what course structure works for you etc
What advice would you give someone wanting to follow the same path? Be focused, be ambitious. It is not an easy career, so you have to be sure that you are ready for it. You need to be passionate because that is what will get you out of bed to go into the lab during the weekend because of a time course experiment! (I have worked with cells that needed a media change every. single. day)
Work- Life Balance – you need a life outside of science, identify what hobbies and activities keep you sane! For me, it is music – I can totally separate myself from the headspace of thinking about science; oh and K-dramas. It is very important to try and compartmentalise these different parts of your life. Also keep active!
Outside science how would you describe yourself: Goofy. At work, I am really focused and am working through a plan, trying to hit certain goals; so outside of work, I try to relax as much as possible. I am quite sarcastic and very playful (quite the opposite of working Seun)
When considering your career path, how much has your potential salary affected your decision? Money makes the world go round! Working in academia is definitely not where the money is, a lot of the salaries for RAs and Postdocs are highly dependent on grants for project. So its not very stable, but to be honest I like the work I am doing. I plan to do a PhD and apply the skills and expertise knowledge I would have gained in the Industry sector
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Finishing off my PhD, exploring a career potentially in Industry. Still highly involved in science communication and sharing my experience as a #blackgirlinscience
Where can people find you ?
@seuninscience on Twitter, FB, YouTube and Instagram. LinkedIn
I hope this post inspires you to follow your passions and acknowledge that at every stage of your career will involve perseverance, consistency and discipline to help you achieve your desired goal. Never forget that “ no accomplishment is too small and no goal is too high”
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