Careers in Life Sciences

Jade Talbot

Life Sciences graduate Jade Talbot, standing behind a colleague. Both are in a lab wearing a white coats with a badge that reads "Cancer Research UK".

"I chose Essex because I liked the modules available to me offered by the School of Life Sciences"

Jade Talbot, BSc Biological Sciences and MSc Cancer Biology graduate, currently a PhD student at the University of Manchester.

When choosing which undergraduate degree to apply for, I proceeded with biological sciences and not biomedical sciences. I was undecided about where I wanted to go with my career so I did not want to limit my options.

I chose Essex because I liked the modules available to me offered by the School of Life Sciences. There weren’t too many compulsory elements, so I could select modules that interested me as my passions emerged each year of studying. I also loved the campus-style university and how friendly the university felt. It was my first time leaving home, and as a Suffolk girl, I wanted to be close to home! The accommodation options were lovely and affordable, and I felt safe living there.

During my time at Essex, I enjoyed the community feel, which is what I expected from a campus university. All the staff and students I crossed paths with were friendly and supportive. As one of the most international universities in the country, I felt privileged to experience other people’s cultures.

During my Masters, I completed a 12-week placement at Cancer Research UK, Cambridge Institute, an experience I had wanted to carry out since I was told about it during my undergraduate degree. For the application, I was supported by staff members within the department and the careers centre in helping me prepare for submitting a CV and the interview.

My time at Essex and the placement prepared me well for the workplace. I enjoyed my time very much, and it’s something I think about fondly. Completing my placement gave me a great introduction to what research is like and to a different workplace where I could increase my lab experience. I was advised to consider a PhD, and I’m glad they did because I loved it.

My advice to students is - don’t get caught up in “I’m wasting my time doing X”. Take every opportunity that comes your way! I have since done many placements, including a 2-month trip to South Africa. I started my journey destined to be a wet lab scientist and have transferred to becoming a coder.

To carry out a PhD, it’s good to have some research experience, but don’t be disheartened if you need to get a job as a research assistant or technician in-between as this is a great option. As I write this, I have just submitted my PhD thesis, grateful for my foundations at Essex. I am waiting to start a Data Scientist role at the Office of National Statistics.