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Students experiences of PIPS are largely positive, the placement presents an opportunity to explore and develop new skills in a business environment.

Below, you will find a selection of summaries, written by students who have previously undertaken a PIPS placement.



Catherine Griffin (2013-17)

AAAS Science International/Science Magazine

Some aims of this internship were to improve my understanding of scientific publishing, to improve the way I present my research to people outside of my area of research and to gain insight into problems identified by editors in the publication process.

By looking at article submissions each morning with the managing editor, I learned how to clearly present my research to interest editorial staff who may not work in my field of research. This also helped me to understand which common avoidable flaws appear in submissions, how best to communicate with editors about articles under revision and how reviewers are likely to see my research. This is likely to be immediately useful with a view towards publishing my own research, but also useful in the long term to understand the publishing process.

Summarising research articles for brief pieces in the magazine has helped me develop my skills in quickly assessing which information is most relevant to concisely convey the results of research. In the past I have often found it difficult to determine how much detail is required to explain my research to people unfamiliar with the topic, but reading a broad range of research articles and writing concise summaries has given me a better understanding of how to approach this.

Overall this internship has helped me to develop skills in critical assessment of research, identification of relevant information, analysis of external data and providing information for educational purposes. It has also given me valuable insight into scientific publishing that will be helpful for my future career, whether I remain in academia or pursue publishing.


Maxime Couturier (2015-19)

Department of Chemistry

Singer Instruments

In my Skill development objective, I stated that I wanted to improve my capacity to work in a team, and I must say, this was a wonderful occasion. Indeed, while testing the colony picker, I encountered a number of issues that I could not have solved by myself. I really saw how complex problems and projects could only be handled by a group of people interacting with each other and sharing their ideas to progress as efficiently as possible. I really believe that experience improved my team working and my capacity both to help other and seek their help as soon as I need it.

Conducting meetings where the whole team can throw suggestion and remark to highlight the strong and weak point of a proposal was also very formative.

It also gave me the opportunity to communicate more on the work I was conducting, improving my communication skills

I was also involved in all the step of product development, from the early market research to the product launching and final testing. Knowing how all these steps are conducted will prove hopeful in other domain as the process is not dependent on the product. I am very glad I could be part of it and improve my skills in product development management.


Ruth Laing (2012-16)

Department of Biochemistry

Cambridge PPD

The whole internship was an extremely valuable experience for me. Firstly, aside from skills development, working within a professional environment (albeit one with a fairly 'academic' level of flexibility) was useful insight into working outside of academia.

One of my main aims in undertaking this internship was to gain writing experience. I am considering a career in technical writing, and the opportunity to put together a variety of materials ranging from technical documentation to user-friendly information has been invaluable. Although I had a reasonable amount of experience in writing scientific reports, I had never produced 'business' documentation. I also had fairly limited experience in writing content intended to be accessed online and for a more informal audience. I am now better able to vary my writing style for the audience, and have a much better idea of whether technical writing is a career I would enjoy. Furthermore, writing is an essential skill in almost any job, so I feel that this is useful skill development regardless of my future career.

I have much more experience now in liaising with other members in a team and ensuring that my work is meeting their needs, and in managing project progression. I also have some experience in providing constructive feedback, and in meeting with people for work purposes.

I have even, unexpectedly, gained some knowledge of HTML from this placement. Although my experience is very limited, I feel that knowing some basics is still useful. I also helped to redesign the website associated with one of the courses I helped to develop. Although this was using a platform particular to the organisation, I feel that the experience in designing the layout of the site and ensuring that it met the needs of its varied users was still valuable.

One of the original aims of my project was to create a completely new course. This would have required me to create all of the material from scratch myself, after researching an area with which I was previously unfamiliar. Unfortunately, the two main courses that I was involved with ended up being much more substantial projects than anticipated, leaving me with no time to complete this task (it was de-prioritised after I was brought on to help with the second project). I was somewhat disappointed that I was unable to complete this, partly because I did undertake quite a lot of reading and had started to put together a course outline, but also because I feel this would have been a valuable experience. However, I became so involved in the other projects that they resulted in the creation of much novel material anyway.


Toby Call (2013-17)

Department of Biochemistry

International Space University

Had I come across a company specializing in the particular area of the space industry I am interested in I may have applied there, however there are currently no established companies in the area of bioregenerative life support.

In hindsight I may have looked at water treatment industry or an anaerobic digestion company such as Biogen, however I would not have gained the enormous insight into the space industry, which will continue to motivate me for years.

I was able to get an unparalleled overview of the space industry and the state of the art of life support systems including bioregenerative systems. During the course of the PIP I experienced what it was like to be in a high intensity working groups of different sizes that need to self organize and meet tight deadlines. 

I learnt the necessity of clear diplomatic communication when working with many nationalities with varying levels of language ability and sometimes very different cultural and ethical values.

Overall I understand my PIP was unconventional compared to others, however it achieved the same goals in providing an even broader industry insight than working for one company, and in all I can say it was a life changing experience that will influence my career and life greatly.