• Question: how many jobs did you have before becoming a scientist

    Asked by kasias to David, Ross, Nina, Deepak, Rebecca on 1 Jun 2019. This question was also asked by tinahillxx.
    • Photo: Nina Rzechorzek

      Nina Rzechorzek answered on 1 Jun 2019:


      Soooo many! See my work history, all in all about 20 before my current job. I had jobs in various places every holiday from about age 14. Much of this was unpaid work experience but one summer a farmer gave me £2.50 an hour for rearing some calves – I learnt loads doing this and earned enough to buy my first car – a 17-year-old Fiat…a classic. I’ve worked in bars, cafes, hotels, supermarkets, zoos, veterinary practices/hospitals, research labs, on farms and livery yards, and even for an independent financial advisor. I’ve also been paid to teach and create educational material online. I’ve done voluntary work for dog rescue centres and research expeditions to Australia and Bolivia. More recently I worked as a veterinary surgeon full time and then as a specialist trainee in Neurology & Neurosurgery. Bottom line is that each of these jobs taught me something new, and the variety gave me the chance to work with people from all walks of life – I cannot emphasise enough how important that is, it’s really helped me get to where I am now, built my confidence, and given me many happy memories! Of course, the paid work also helped with student fees!

    • Photo: Ross Hill

      Ross Hill answered on 3 Jun 2019:


      Six (is the short answer!)

      If you’re worried about not having enough experience or having jobs that “don’t seem scientific” do not worry at all! My very first job was making sandwiches in a bakery, I then washed pots in a café, served fish&chips in a resteraunt, poured drinks in a bar etc etc….

      All of these jobs taught me important life lessons, including the appreciation of hard-earned money, how to interact with people in a professional environment and what careers stimulated me.

      I was 18 when I had my first science-related job. I was a laboratory assistant for a University lecturer in Bristol during my first summer holiday as an undergraduate student.

      (IMPORTANT PART) I quickly realised that jobs in science are incredibly rewarding, and unlike any job I had before I was willing to work more, not to make my boss happy, but because I wanted to know the answer to an experiment. I felt for the first time that the work I was doing was for me, I felt a degree of ownership over my work and a level of pride and passion about my daily activities that other jobs simply hadn’t given me.

      I have worked in labs ever since.

    • Photo: Deepak Chandrasekharan

      Deepak Chandrasekharan answered on 3 Jun 2019:


      I’ve always enjoyed meeting people and working in teams so all my jobs are ones that let me do that!

      I worked in a charity shop, at a summer camp during uni/school hols and as a tutor to students and met lots of great interesting people as colleagues and as customers/students.

      I’ve been working as a doctor since then and now do 4 days a week of science for my PhD and one day a week in the hospital.

    • Photo: Rebecca Moon

      Rebecca Moon answered on 4 Jun 2019:


      1) Hospital cleaner – scrubbing toilets and mopping floors was not much fun!
      2) Emergency call handler in an out of hours GP practice
      3) Admin (filing letters and putting data on a computer) in a doctors surgery
      4) Volunteer in a well baby clinic
      5) Hospital doctor – I have worked in many different departments of several different hospitals as part of our training is to change hospital every 6 months to get different experiences

    • Photo: David Wilson

      David Wilson answered on 4 Jun 2019:


      I’ve had plenty of the usual jobs growing up like working in shops and promoting shows at the Edinburgh festival. The ones that helped me becoming a scientist were a Scholarship from The Wellcome Trust while I was at University to help me do a project for a summer in a lab. This gave me real life experience in what an academic lab was like. Depending on your university course you might not get as much exposure to lab work in a research lab as you might thing so getting experience is really helpful so you can decide if it’s something your interested in.After University my first science job was in a Clinical Lab working with the NHS. The work I did was really important for patients and doctors but I didn’t have the same freedom and independence as I did in a research lab so when it was time for a new job I got one that I knew I wanted in research.

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