My Lab Internship Experience: Joseph Carr

Posted on: 31 March 2022 by Samantha Riella in Student experiences

Biochemistry student Joseph Carr tells us about his internship with the Liverpool Aortic Biomechanics and Biochemistry Research Group (LABB) within the University of Liverpool.

Introduce yourself!

I’m Joe, currently a 4th year MBiolSci (Biochemistry) student. This course has been a great combination of academic study, whilst still being exposed to real laboratory experiments and the scientific process. From undertaking the internship as part of the MBiolSci programme, I have been accepted onto multiple PhD programmes. The internshop has been particularly useful when writing personal statements and to bring up during interviews.

My current research project is looking at cardiac electrophysiology and why certain mutations cause long-QT syndrome.

Where was your internship and what did you do?

My internship was with the Liverpool Aortic Biomechanics and Biochemistry Research Group (LABB), within the University of Liverpool. This was a multidisciplinary project, combining biochemistry and molecular techniques, with fundamental engineering. The goal of this was to investigate aortic disease from human samples taken from vascular surgery at local hospitals. I worked in a group of engineers, biochemists and surgeons to gather data regarding this. As such, I am first authoring a manuscript for the Journal or Biomechanics and also organising a local conference with the LABB group.

How did you find the internship experience and what did you learn?

The internship was a challenging, yet very exciting opportunity. It is one of the first experiences working in a professional scientific context. As such, you not only enhance your hard science skills, but also your work ethic and ability to communicate your data to a variety of people.

I really enjoyed the increased level of responsibility associated with undertaking an internship rather than a dissertation. However, you still are well supported by the module leader, your internship supervisor and host institution.

Top skills you've picked up during the internship

Communication was essential, especially when operating in multiple labs/buildings, with lots of the team working remotely.

Problem solving became very important, with machines not working properly and having little access to staff, you develop a skill in troubleshooting.

Proficiencies in scientific software, I.e. SPSS, are improved as you learn how to correctly present data in a publication format.

How did you find the support available while you secured your work experience?

My original internship fell through at the last moment due to COVID. As such, the module leader was critical in helping me secure another alternative project that proved to be extremely fulfilling and exciting. You are also constantly supported throughout the internship itself, having access to your internship supervisor at the university, whilst also knowing the university is in regular contact with your host.

What is next for you?

I will be going onto a PhD in cardiovascular science, funded by the BHF. This is investigating malignant arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death. With this, I hope to enter an academic position and continue in the world of biological research.

Did your work experience effect your future plans at all?

Being able to talk about a project you completed outside of the university term proved helpful during interviews. It also allowed me to form strong academic networks that I used as references for PhD applications.

What has been your favourite thing about university?

I have really enjoyed the variety in my course, not only in terms of the content covered (pharmacology, basic biology, computing etc), but also the opportunities it has offered me. The support at this university is extremely helpful-for example, my dissertation supervisor has been crucial with helping me securing a post-graduation position, as well as ensuring I develop my skills in the best way possible.

What is your top tip for students currently looking for work experience?

Make sure to engage with a variety of sources, including the Career Studio, your academic advisor, dissertation supervisor etc. Joining professional societies (i.e. biochemical society) is also useful as they often post about work experience opportunities, as well as sources of funding that can prove very helpful.

*If you would like to find out more about getting involved in an internship you can visit Handshake, where we post daily new opportunities and experiences. Internships are a great way to work on projects, learn more about a particular field, make industry connections and develop your hard and soft skills. Internships can even lead to full-time job offers.

*To find out more visit Handshake and filter by the ‘internship’ tag, take a look on our website and our twitter page @livuniintern which posts internships daily.

*You can also visit the Career Studio at any time to find out more about internships and ask questions with a Career Coach. Our Career Coaches will help you explore career options, connect with employers, and apply successfully to jobs and opportunities. You can visit the Career Studio at any time, no appointment is needed. You can drop-in on University Square Monday to Friday from 10am - 5pm, or send a message to one of our Coaches on Handshake 24/7.