Queen Mary University of London participates in the “Science without Borders” scheme – a scheme that enables Brazilian students to receive scholarships to study at overseas institutions for one-year undergraduate study abroad programmes as well as at postgraduate level on both split and full PhD programmes. Rayla Novais da Costa is one of the students who participated in the scheme in 2015-2016 and has attended a year in the Biochemistry course in the School of Biological & Chemical Sciences. Below she writes about her experience of being on a QInternships placement and how she made the most of her time being here with us.
What made you apply for this particular role?
First of all my interest in this particular role was because of the field, nanotechnology. I believe that my interest in this particular field started when, on my first semester in the university, I had to prepare a presentation about nanotechnology. Then, as my course is in the biotechnology field, when I received the e-mail about the role I was sure that this was my chance to develop my skills and to have an international experience working for a British company. So, I applied immediately.
What did you do during your experience?
My routine working for Applied Nanodetectors (AND) was basically spend the day preparing, testing and analysing data about the gas sensors. I used to arrive at the lab around 9am. Before beginning the experiments, we (Dr Victor Higgs, managing director of AND and I) usually sat down for a few minutes to prepare what should be done on that day and set an objective. Then I began to prepare the samples, run some of them before lunch, go for lunch around 1pm, return around 2pm, prepare more samples and do several analysis to see what was achieved in that day.
What did you learn from the experience?
I’ve learnt a lot during these 9 weeks. But the best thing I learnt was to how science require curiosity, dedication and passion. Everyday we faced a different situation in which I had to know how to be a scientist and look for solutions. So, in general I developed skills in physics, biochemistry, and nanotechnology that provided me with a new vision in the biotechnology field and helped me to decide what I want to be as a professional.
What surprised you about your experience?
What surprised me the most was how science coupled with technology has given a new hope to the world. I mean, working in a big lab with people from different fields, I noticed how science can help the community quality of life. Also, how technology has enhanced our chance to achieve new solutions for several diseases that concern people nowadays.
Is there anything you would do differently?
Yes. I think If I had had more time, I would have studied more about nanotechnology. Specially to try to help better the company when some problem came up. Also to understand more about the nanosensors technology before starting the practical work.
What difference did the internship make to you?
The internship basically changed me for a lifetime. As nanotechnology is a growing industry in Brazil, if I had not caught this internship I may never have this opportunity in Brazil. So I am one of the few who have this experience in my country and of course it will differentiate me when I apply for a job. In addition, my interest in nanotechnology increased my desire to learn more about it, and makes me think about following this field in my future.
What tips do you have for other students and graduates looking to apply for a QInternship?
The best thing I would say is to enjoy all the time during the graduation. Try to do everything you can at university(e.g. summer internships, research projects, tutoring, junior enterprise, student union etc). This way you will know what you like and what you dislike and choose the right thing by the end of your graduation. Also, if you are an international student from an exchange program, divide your time between university and trips; traveling is the best way to become an open minded person and it also makes you a better professional, a person that knows how to deal with people from different cultures. Trace a goal and make it happen!