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Laura Peacock

Pharmaceutical Chemistry

Pharmaceutical-Chemistry_Student_Laura-PeacockWhat appealed to you about Northumbria University / studying in Newcastle?

I've lived in Newcastle all of my life, and never has studying in another city really appealed to me because it's got it all; bustling city centre, culture and staying close to home was an added bonus! Northumbria's choice of science-based degrees and facilities were the factors that drew me in over other local universities, as well as its great employment prospects and the opportunities to do a year in industry with the huge base of companies they're linked with.

What was it about the course that particularly appealed?

The hands-on and applied approach to teaching made the course attractive, as I knew having practical experience would help me in starting my career off in the future. All of the chemistry degrees at Northumbria are at least recognised by the Royal Society of Chemistry, which was part of the criteria I used in my initial research into studying, so I knew I was going to be working towards a degree of an excellent standard. The fact that I had the choice of specialising in the pharmaceutical aspect of chemistry was also a big plus, as my interests lie in the medicinal and pharmaceutical side of chemistry.

What qualifications did you have?

I applied through UCAS, and I have a pretty random mix of A levels! I studied Chemistry, French and ICT, so I had different areas of skills going into university. It worked out fairly well though; the computing side of it helps me to word process and format assignments well, and the level of French I know could potentially help me when I start to think about a career.

How did you feel during your first week at Northumbria?

I feel like I had the advantage of knowing a few people already as a lot of people from my 6th form study here too. I did some networking before I started to try and find people on my course which I highly recommend doing, especially if you aren't living in student halls! I ended up meeting a couple of people on student networks before and having a great time getting to know them during freshers week; to this day they are some of my closest friends!

What do you like most about the course?

The amount of practical time we get during the week is definitely my favourite aspect. It's constantly being said that companies want graduates with as much laboratory experience as possible and Northumbria really strives to turn all its students into employable individuals - plus many of the experiments and activities we do in the labs are so much fun!

Can you give an example of a piece of work you’ve been involved with recently?

The course is hard work, but if you put the time in you'll benefit so much. I've done labs before where you need to prepare and do initial work before the day, and this taught me that the more time you put in beforehand, the better your experiment or analysis will turn out, and you could walk away with the best result you've ever had. I put a lot of work in before an analytical lab we did in second year, and ended up getting 96% for it!

How do you get on with your tutors?

Really well, they're always just an email away if you've got a problem or an issue you need resolving. I've also been to a couple of my tutors regarding placement and interview advice. Building a good relationship with them from the start is the best way since you're going to see them for a minimum of three years!

Do you have the opportunity for any work placements during your course?

Yes, and I can honestly say its the best thing I've ever done! I'm on placement at the moment with a small, local pharmaceutical company. I work in the analytical lab doing quality control. It's great because I'm not treated like a student, I'm seen as any other employee and my team are such a lovely group of people, they're always willing to help me and give me advice when I need it. I've learnt so much from working in industry and built a network of contacts, as well as making a few friends for life! It's the best opportunity I've had and knowing I'll have a year's experience at the end is such an advantage. If you've got the chance to do a year industry, don't pass it up!

What do you do when you’re not studying?

I have a part time job in the city which I've had since I started the course, so it's definitely possible to juggle both studying and making some extra cash. I'm a member of the gym at Sport Central, another great Northumbria facility which offers tons of exercise classes to have fun and meet new people, as well as keeping fit!

What’s your accommodation like?

I've lived both at home and in a flat with other students, and both have their perks! I love living with people going through the same experience as me and who are your best friends, but being at home also gives me the peace and quiet you need when you've got an assignment to crack on with, as well as saving you so much cash!

What would you like to do when you graduate?

My ambitions have definitely changed since I started. I used to want to study towards a PGCE at the end of my course, but that hasn't totally left my mind and I'd still love to teach science at some point and inspire young people to have a career in the industry. Since doing my placement though, I've realised how much I enjoy being in a laboratory environment and I have acquired so many valuable skills and knowledge of the industry that I can't wait to utilise in a career.

Have you used Student Services during your course?

I've used the Careers Centre a lot with trying to find a placement. It was great for getting help in which employers actually offered placements, getting tips in creating a CV and having mock interviews and seeking advice to help prepare for the real ones.

Do you have any advice for anyone applying for your course, or for university in general?

Study harder than ever to meet the entrance requirements, because you'll regret it if you end up not going to the university you've set your heart on! I can't imagine my student experience anywhere else. And look into working while studying, it's definitely possible if you manage your time well, and you'll appreciate the extra income when your student loan starts to slowly disappear!

What three words would you use to describe your time at Northumbria?

Challenging, advantageous and awesome!

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