Having reached the end of a six week Cogent summer placement with the BIA as a Policy and Public Affairs Intern, Hana Janebdar, an Imperial College Biology student, reflects on her experience.

Spending this summer as part of a trade association representing groundbreaking biotech research and development has been the perfect introduction to this extraordinary industry. This opportunity has provided me with a real insight into the big issues for the sector, science policy and most of all it has made me aware of the broad scope of life science careers.

The main project that I have been working on at the BIA involved summarising the share price histories for all the biotech companies listed on the London Stock Exchange, and looking through their corresponding press releases to account for the peaks and troughs in share prices over the past five years. This formed the basis of a further document I produced which outlined – with statistical analysis – the current state and performance of the UK public limited biotech sector. The project was a learning curve and a discovery of the value of working backwards from, instead of forwards to, the end goal!

Having a project like this to work on, from planning to implementing and adjusting, while also getting involved with the day-to-day running of the BIA was great. I also attended BIA advisory commitee meetings and a roundtable event in Cambridge with Sir Jim Paice MP. It is not often that life science students get to see how the academic skills and knowledge they are obtaining can eventually be translated to effecting progression in their sector, or to meet the people who are as excited about helping to grow the sector as we, as students, are of engaging with it.

I would definitely encourage all my peers to apply for this placement when it next becomes available in the summer of 2014. I wanted a placement over the summer that provided an alternative to a lab-based experience, so when this opportunity was emailed to us by our Department of Life Sciences, I applied. The application process, advertised and organised by Cogent, consisted of an interview with BIA staff members after an initial CV submission. The team at Cogent were extremely helpful every step of the way, from contacting me about the suitable placement opportunity to giving me advice about interview techniques.

I have enjoyed this placement tremendously and would like to thank the BIA team for all their support and guidance.

More information on the placement service provided by Cogent, the sector skills council, is available here.