As thousands of teenagers nervously await their A-Level results I began to reflect on my own path from science education-to-industry, a journey that started 12 years ago. Like today's crop of students I was worried that this day could possibly make or break my summer and even my entire life. What I actually discovered though, was that my A-Level results were just the beginning of what would be the start of my career in a scientific industry.
Now I work as a research scientist, a fun and incredibly rewarding job as it fulfils my need to experiment and investigate. Growing up, I was fascinated by the biology in the world around me and really wanted to understand why humans could be infected by a disease and how the disease could be cured by medicine. Because of this curiosity, I am now working in antibody research in my quest to understand and treat human illnesses. Today, in the advent of A-level results, I think that it is important that we stop and question whether we as an industry are doing enough to inspire future UK scientists.
For me, I did find science very interesting at school, with Biology and Chemistry being my favourite subjects. I decided to take these subjects for A- Level but contemplating a career in science was a different thing entirely. I wasn't too aware of the vast options a good science education gave me. Having the opportunity to see a genuine lab and what scientists do every day to discover new medicines would have made my decision a lot easier - it would have given me some perspective.
Recently, the renowned fertility pioneer Professor Lord Robert Winston came to my place of work, UCB, a pharmaceutical company based in Slough, UK, as part of Work in Science Week. Essentially, the students are encouraged to put down their textbooks, put on the white lab coats and safety specs and get some hands on experience in a real lab - a totally different experience to the practical science lessons taught in school.
In addition to this, Professor Winston met the young students of Slough and shared his experiences of working in a medical and science based industry. The Professor also imparted his invaluable knowledge on the variety of different jobs available within the science field.
I would have relished an opportunity to ask Professor Winston "should I really consider a career in science?" Giving students access to real life scientists helps to increase interest, enthusiasm and also provide study advice straight from someone whose been there and done it.
Science is much more than the knowledge that makes its way into school books - it's exciting! The skills you learn and the knowledge you gain can lead you in many directions, providing routes into a wide range of fulfilling and interesting careers. As the wise professor told our young audience "we have to have healthy science" and it's our duty as an industry to work with schools and universities in to inspire the next generation of scientists and ensure the UK remains a global leader in drug discovery.