Career Journeys: working in Biotechnology
Amritha Kharidehal shares how a placement during her MSc in Biotechnology has impacted her career in the sector.
|Year of Graduation
What path has your career taken since graduation?
I chose to do an Industrial Placement as part of the MSc Biotechnology course as I thought that this would be a great platform to gain some real-world work
experience. I joined Ingenza Ltd as a placement student and my placement project was based on developing a plate-based assay to detect activity of enzymes in a recombinant strain. At the end of my placement with Ingenza, I was lucky enough to find a job as a Research Assistant with them. They had a vacancy in the Downstream Processing Lab with the Team Lead of Biochemistry which is where I began my career in biotechnology.
While working at Ingenza I came face to face with the intricacies of research management while also improving my technical knowledge. I working in the Downstream Processing Lab for a year and then moved into the Molecular Biology team. After 3 years as a Research Assistant I was promoted to Scientist. Customer interaction is a vital part of working in the industry and an opportunity that is highly coveted. I was able to participate in a few of these meetings that helped to gain a thorough understanding of customer requirements and where my contribution fits in. In my last few months at Ingenza, I also worked as a Scientist in Fermentation where I gained further exposure to bioprocessing and thus gaining the experience of working in all core areas of expertise in the company. After 6 years at Ingenza, I moved back to India and found a part-time opportunity as a Freelance Editor in Life Sciences for six months. As part of this role I edited manuscripts to be published in various international journals and honed my communication skills in academic writing.
I am now currently exploring the best possible options to further grow in my career and am applying to PhDs where possible and also to full-time job opportunities. As there are limited vacancies available I am also using this time to enhance my skills through online courses and also developing my hobbies to maintain a good work-life balance. To limit the financial impact of my circumstances on day-to-day life I have also recently started working part-time as a subject matter expert contracted with Chegg India.
What experiences do you feel helped you get to your current position?
A vast amount of lab experience is required to be successful in research and I believe that this exposure at the academic level in both my undergraduate and postgraduate courses greatly helped me to get my first job. I addition to this, my enthusiasm to learn new skills and adapt to requirements helped me thrive in a highly competitive environment.
I also actively participated in eVolve- the University of Edinburgh’s volunteering society. I went to events involving beach clean ups, helped with refurbishing some of Gorgie City Farm and also assisted the elderly. It was personally a very gratifying experience to be a part of this society and also meet fellow volunteers with a unified goal to help others.
What advice would you give to students who are interested in your area of work?
My advice to anybody interested in pursuing a career in Biotechnology would be to focus on enhancing your skills in lab techniques very early on in your education so that you have the confidence to take these up independently.
One you have built strong fundamental skills through learning by doing, you will be able to learn new techniques faster and apply this to your advantage – by problem solving, troubleshooting and developing an innovative mind-set. As change is the only constant in Research & Development, the ability to learn swiftly and credibly apply your knowledge is very important in determining the course of your career.