I graduated in 2020 with a degree in biomedical science and, like most 2020 graduates, found that COVID-19 threw a spanner in the works. My plan originally had been to study for an MSc in human genetics, an aspect of my undergraduate course that I found particularly interesting, and then travel the world for a year before settling back in the UK with a ‘proper job’. However, the idea of spending another year studying online from my bedroom didn’t appeal to me, and while travel restrictions made it impossible to leave the country I was forced to transition into the world of work a lot sooner than I had anticipated. This was particularly daunting for me as I had absolutely no idea where to start. All I knew was that I wanted to use my science degree and make a real difference to people’s lives.
I began my career in science when I was 18. Pfizer’s European research headquarters were near my hometown in the UK, and they ran a programme for local school leavers in which you could work in the labs at Pfizer while also going to university and studying for a part-time degree (almost like a science apprenticeship). After Pfizer downsized their presence at the site, I worked for various smaller pharmaceutical companies in the UK, before making the decision to move to New Zealand and work at the Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre, based at the University of Auckland. After working for some time in academia, I began to feel that my time in the lab was coming to an end and so I started looking for something different, which would also draw on my experience as a scientist. Luckily, I saw an advert for a role as a trainee medical writer at AMICULUM New Zealand, and the rest, as they say, is history!
During both my undergraduate degree in biochemistry and microbiology, and my PhD in synthetic biology, I was always attracted to extracurricular activities – so much so that I became involved with the European Federation of Biotechnology Section for Bioengineering and Bioprocessing as their communications officer. Realising that my joy tended to come from presenting my research at congresses and networking with other researchers versus spending long monotonous days in the lab, I knew that I wanted to look beyond academia for my next career step.
I graduated from Surrey University in 2013 with a BA in English literature with creative writing. I selected a degree that aligned with what I felt were my strongest skills and interests at the time: reading and writing. From the career prospects open to me, such as teaching, publishing and marketing, I opted for the latter. I joined a small, local agency that offered me a job while I was in my final year, subject to me achieving a 2:1 or higher. Mission accomplished. This agency had a portfolio of alternative finance and accountancy firms as clients. It was not an area which interested me but it kickstarted my awareness of compliance processes and the restrictions imposed on companies operating within a heavily regulated industry.
I trained in medicine and, after completing my medical registration and discovering it was not a career I wished to pursue, began exploring alternatives. Medical writing seemed a good way of combining my qualifications and interest in writing, and I joined a medical publishing company as a medical writer in a non-agency setting. I initially wrote single-agent drug reviews across a wide range of therapeutic areas. Over time, my role transitioned into training and mentoring new medical writers and upskilling experienced medical writers, as well as establishing standard operating procedures and a training and mentoring programme.