What is your current position?
Assistant Technician (grade 4).
How long have you worked at the University?
Just coming up to two years, 1 year as a lab assistant prior to this post.
What did you do before that?
My previous employment was as blood donor nurse (serving 14 years in several areas of the NHS). My phlebotomy qualification, enabled me to gain my first position here, as I could take samples for research of which really appealed.
I had wanted to change direction in my career, had experience in the medical sector, beauty, office and food industries. (My very first employment being at 15, as a waitress in the Bath Pump Rooms). I had an open mind in which to do next and although knowing I would have to start from the beginning and earn my positions, I was enthusiastic and carefully ambitious.
Although I had not gained a university degree myself, I had studied often at different levels. An Anatomy and Physiology diploma assisted my time standing in for a technician, where dissections were taking place. Medication and medical equipment knowledge were a huge benefit for practicals in the Pharmacy and Pharmacology suite. Even taking COSHH knowledge from hair and beauty, along with SOPs, sterility respect and a huge amount of health and safety all helped a great deal.
Tell us about your journey so far at Bath
Starting as a lab assistant in the P&P department, wasn’t all just cleaning glassware. In my first month I had gained experience in gas cylinders, autoclaving, chemical safety, became a fire warden and took on several other small jobs.
I would head the re-organising of classroom layouts, install more up to date health and safety devices and procedures, take over ordering and inventories of classrooms, new labeling systems for Eppendorfs of drugs.
As much as I had intended on hopefully working my way up the grades a little, I did think it would be in the same department. Until one day a colleague said they did not want to get rid of me, but knew I could do and enjoy a newly advertised grade 4 position in Biology and Biochemistry.
On reading through the specifications, there were a huge amount of listed procedures that would be expected of me that I had not done or even knew about. This is where I requested an informal meeting. Here I was able to discuss what I had been doing already, what I thought may be relevant to the new position and to see if I was wasting anyone's time by applying.
I had been pleasantly surprised by full encouragement and explanation on requirements I had not been familiar with. Thankfully I was successful and am now just reaching my first year here and not sure quite where it has gone. Again, I have had more course opportunities even including first aid at work (a bit embarrassing if I failed) I do love my job here, with no two days EVER the same and I really am learning something new every day.
Is there anything you would have done differently?
I certainly have not come across anything that has made me think that.
Was there any particular training or other development resource that you found especially useful?
When I first joined the university my line manager knew I was keen on any courses/training I could attend. But I did not expect as `just` a laboratory assistant I would be able to participate in the technician's week.
My interview date arrived just prior to the technician's week. This was the most relaxed, wanted interview I had attended, with all interviewers genuinely so lovely. One question asked - was I trained in PAT testing, of which I was able to reply - I would be once I had completed the following weeks course I would be. This was a much-needed benefit to the 2 large teaching laboratories and fully equipped prep room that kept the classes running.
I am still loving my job, but always happy to take on what is needed and try new adventures, with the full knowledge of what I do not have as qualifications and do as experience. Although cannot imagine it would be elsewhere in the university, as I have such a lovely team I mix with in several areas, it is still a pleasure to come into work. The chance to look after such diverse animals and insects, assisting outreach sessions, weekend and holiday cover enables me to see the wider areas of what we are doing and the background progress.
My ideal situation would be - to have higher responsibilities and a full time (I am on a 0.8FTE contract) grade 5 position, still here in Biology and Biochemistry.
But I do know exactly who I would like to take my position if I do have the chance to progress...