A Future in Chemistry - Your career starts here
Smoky test tube

Experimental Chemist


My job is to create bespoke drug molecules when requested by a client.

00:00 The department I work for is the proof of concept group and

00:04 in that group we look at novel ways to make new drug molecules.

00:08 We’ll get an enquiry in from a customer and they may want, you know, they may want a sample making.

00:13 So we’ll look at new ways to make that don’t infringe on anybody else’s patent, so various things like that.

00:20 For my education, I think my interest in science was sparked at GCSE,

00:26 probably in particular a bit more chemistry, so when it came to do my A levels I carried the sciences on,

00:31 I did chemistry and physics and it was there whilst I was applying for university that I learnt about this modern apprenticeship scheme

00:38 that Avecia offers.

00:40 I was quite interested in that because it meant I could study, do my degree and work and earn some money at the same time, it was good fun.

00:47 Throughout your education you learn a lot of things,

00:50 I think chemistry’s one of those industries particularly where you have to know a lot of what you’ve done

00:55 in your education, you apply it to your day-to-day job.

00:57 I think there’s often jobs around where you do your degree and maybe you don’t use quite a lot of it.

01:02 But chemistry’s one of those things where I don’t think you can ever really know enough,

01:06 you know, there’s always more to learn.

01:08 The skills involved in my day-to-day job;

01:11 you’ve got to be very thorough, you’ve got to have a good concern for standards,

01:15 and observations as well, you might be doing an experiment,

01:18 it might be green the time you leave it, and you come back and it might be green again,

01:23 but I know from experience I’ve done ones and it’s gone like green, pink, brown and back to green again.

01:27 So you know, you’ve missed all that, you know, you’ve got to be quite observant. 

01:31 You know, just generally, pay attention, you know, just have a concern for it.

01:36 Often in my work I’ll have done some experiments or work in the laboratory,

01:41 and I’ll have to present, you know collate the information from the results and present that to our group meeting,

01:45 to my manager in general.

01:49 You know, I might have to use the computer, make some graphs and just various other things.

01:43 There’s always like different departments, you might need some analysis work doing,

01:56 so you’ve got to go off and chat with people there and just general communication skills.

02:02 Just, you know, be outgoing really, I think is the key to it.

02:06 I enjoy my work because quite often no two days are the same.

02:10 You’ll be doing work one day and you might have a work plan for the whole week,

02:14 but you’ll do one piece, you’ll do one experiment and it will just scrap all that,

02:18 you know, you’ll just have to completely rethink what you’re going to do based on that one result.

02:22 So in some ways no two days are the same.

02:26 You know, I like that variability because it’s nice.

02:30 I think, from my own personal point of view, the attractions of working here,


02:33 were that I could do my degree and earn a salary while I was doing that, so you know, that was good for me.

02:40 The holidays here are quite generous, I get plenty of time off,

02:44 it’s nice, I enjoy the work, it’s good.

02:47 It was an interesting alternative to going to university, studying for three years, so I quite liked that.

02:54 I think for anybody else who wants to come and do a similar thing,

02:57 then you know generally you’ve just got to have a good interest in your science.

02:59 I mean, at GCSE you don’t really need to know what you’re doing in a few years’ time,

03:04 but if you’re interested in science then follow that through,

03:07 you know you’ve got the option then when you go to college you can decide if you want to go on to university,

03:11 or apply for a modern apprenticeship kind of thing like I’ve done.

03:15 You know, the option’s there, just do what you like doing.

03:18 One of the things that appealed to me about doing chemistry here

03:21 was that I came to the open day, on that open day they took us round one of the manufacturing plants,

03:26 it was there I kind of saw all the huge equipment, like the massive filters and

03:31 big, like, reaction vessels, you know they made the things.

03:36 It was quite awe-inspiring really you know, from being at school and you might do a filter through a piece of paper or something,

03:41 and then you see this gigantic thing a few metres across and you just think ‘wow’, you know,

03:46 kind of, it appealed to me, it looked interesting.

“There are often jobs around where you do your degree and maybe you don't use quite a lot of it, but chemistry's one of those things where I don't think you can ever know enough. ”

How did I get started?

My interest in science started during my GCSEs, where chemistry was my favourite. I expanded on this with my A-levels, where I took chemistry. I then found out about the Avecia apprenticeship scheme whilst looking at university options.

Career progression

Instead of doing chemistry at university, I applied for an apprenticeship scheme. This has secured me a job and meant I was earning money whilst I was also earning my degree.

Skills used

Creativity, Data Handling and Research, Problem Solving, Team Worker, Logical Thinker, Practical Lab Skills, IT and Technology, Independent Thinker, Communication, Organisation, Problem Solving, Time Management

“I think from my own personal point of view, the attractions of working here were that I could do my degree and earn a salary while I was doing that. ”