One unique selling point of the University of Bath is the links with industry, and well-established placement programmes. Approximately 65% of the undergraduates, who graduated in 2017/18, had opted for a placement or study abroad year. In particular, there have been long standing industrial links between the Mathematical Science department and Roche Biostatistics.
In all honesty, in the summer before applying for a placement I had no idea of what I wanted to do. The natural progression for maths students appeared to be rooted in the financial world, but this did not spark my interest. I was keen to apply my passion for programming and statistics, where the work I did had tangible and meaningful outcomes. Medical statistics was the perfect solution.
High-level description of work undertaken on placement year
During my year at Roche, the opportunities to learn and develop have been abundant. Initially, I supported a study-reporting event, under the supervision of my manager. This gave me the opportunity to understand the pharma processes (which can be daunting at first), and learn about the clinical, and statistical, aspects of the study. Building on this experience, I became the study lead statistician on a late phase oncology molecule to treat Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia. A testament to the Roche placement scheme is that they give real responsibility to their students, whilst providing ample support (for all those stupid questions).
Non-project opportunities during placement
My activities whilst on placement have been hugely diverse and colourful; I will only mention a handful here. Without a doubt, the most colourful experience was representing Roche in the Brighton Pride parade. Other activities have included audio editing and building a webpage for a PSI podcast series, attending university careers fairs, running workshops for school pupils from Switzerland, editing, curating and publishing a monthly departmental newsletter, representing PSI at the Bucks Skills Show, fundraising as part of an Apprentice competition and of course winning the interdepartmental 5-aside football tournament. In addition, Roche enable their placement student to travel internationally, I was due to attend the regional biostatistics conference in Zurich, and present a poster at the PSI conference in Barcelona, unfortunately both were cancelled due to circumstantial travel restrictions.
Would you recommend taking a placement year and why?
Absolutely! Placement years are fantastic opportunities to enrich your university experience, providing you with endless insight and knowledge of working life. In my eyes, it is a win-win. Either you will find a career you love or you will learn what you want to avoid in the future