My name is Neil Causer and I’m part way through my 12 month placement at Incorez. I’ve undertaken this employment opportunity as a part of the 3rd year of my undergraduate degree, with the intention of learning more about the industry I’m studying towards. After being approached about the idea of writing a blog of my experiences as a newcomer, I realise it could be beneficial not only to those in my position of starting a placement within the industry, but also to those with the ambition of embarking on a placement year in the near future.
The first thing I noticed was how different the industry work ethic is from that of the university. There I would spend most of my week in lectures learning all the fundamentals of chemistry, and then spend a day in the lab putting that knowledge into practice. However within an R&D Lab, although I spent the first couple of weeks getting to grips with all of the current technology and developments in my field, I now spend most of my time with my head in the fume cupboard coming up with my own theories and trying out new ideas.
I’ve learned a great deal about polymer and material chemistry whilst I’ve been at Incorez, but the most valuable thing I’ve learned is the ability to manage my own projects. When you start a project in an R&D department, you’re given free rein on how you choose to approach it. Conducting research you feel appropriate, planning experiments that are relevant and time efficient and presenting results that reflect the progress you’re making.
At university, you’re given an experiment, you complete it, it’s graded, and then you never hear about it again. But working in a chemist’s position, you’re tackling real world problems. The products I develop are sent to customers for testing, and when they help solve one of those problems, it’s a hugely rewarding feeling.
I only expected to advance my knowledge of chemistry during my time at Incorez, and though I’m still learning a great deal of content, it’s the industrial context from which I’m learning it which has come to be the more valuable experience. I look forward to the remainder of my time in the Incorez R&D department and to any students thinking of an industrial placement, I would highly recommend it.
Industrial Placement Student