Gemma's story

I’ve learned so much on the graduate placement scheme

Gemma, Investigative Science



Joining RSSL as a graduate was such a positive experience. What stood out was the fact that it felt like a two-way process. The interview was more of an informal chat for us both to decide if I was a good fit for the company. And during the assessment day, I spent a lot of time touring the labs, as well as talking to employees to get first-hand accounts of life at RSSL.


The fact that everyone seemed to know each other also came across. As did the fact that they were friendly, encouraging and incredibly knowledgeable. And it was lovely to see that although RSSL is a fairly large company with a lot going on, it definitely has a community, family feel.


A few years down the line and I can safely say that the job has more than met my expectations. I started in microscopy, which was a bit of a surprise given I didn’t have any experience. But I needn’t have worried as I was immediately sent on a training course and my colleagues helped me in all sorts of ways; from getting to grips with working for a regulated lab, to actually using the techniques and interpreting the results to get answers for our clients.


One thing I found out pretty quickly is that RSSL is big on development plans. If you have a particular interest or see a role that you’d like to have in ten years, they will sit down with you and put everything in place to help you achieve that goal.


For me, that meant I was able to move from microscopy into investigative analysis, which I was particularly keen on after I found out the department had an NMR - something I had been really interested in at university, so I jumped at the chance to gain some practical experience.


After telling my manager I was keen to learn more about NMR, I was sent on a training course and after a period of time was given the opportunity to take a one-year secondment as manager of RSSL’s NMR offering. The great thing is that whenever I decide to pursue a new workstream, I know I’ll get the support and encouragement I need.


But there’s more to RSSL than you might think. I’m on the social committee and regularly spend a day gardening for a local charity as one of my annual volunteer release days. And I’ve also enjoyed getting involved with the Science Outreach programme and Women in Science initiative - both of which I would have loved to see in our school when I was growing up.


And the best thing of all? The hot chocolate in the staff room. They even have sprinkles!