Profile: Georgia Johnstone
Qualification: Bsc (Hons) Genetics
Role at Pacific Edge: Research Associate
Georgia recently made the transition from Intern to Lab Technician, and is now working as a full time Research Associate. We ask her some questions about her internship and what it's been like making the shift.
What drew you to applying for an internship at Pacific Edge?
I was coming towards the end of my honours year and I had decided that I did not want to commit to a Master’s or a PhD just yet, leading me to look for job opportunities. I came across the internship position online and after some further googling learnt more about Pacific Edge Ltd. There were two things that sold me on Pacific Edge: they were a Dunedin based company (I had previously thought that I would have to head to the likes of Auckland for a job in science), and they were a cancer diagnostics company so the work they were doing there was changing lives. I was also very keen to get a taste of what commercial science was like, coming from academia.
What did you enjoy about the internship?
Even though we were interns, we were treated like proper members of the company and I could see how the work I was doing was contributing to the business. The project I had been allocated captured my interest immediately and I thoroughly enjoyed collaborating with three other interns as we adjusted to a new work environment together. Using the coffee machine each morning was also a perk!
What aspects of the internship did you find most useful?
I learnt so much from the scientists at Pacific Edge who have had years of experience in science, both commercially and academically. They were very encouraging and made you feel comfortable asking questions about anything and everything. Teamwork is very important at Pacific Edge where you have many groups (Scientists, Statisticians, Management etc) working together to achieve a common goal – getting a product to the market. The experience I gained from this internship has really improved many of my skills and has set me up well for my future career in science.
Tell us about your new role at Pacific Edge.
My new role at Pacific Edge is that of a Laboratory Technician and extends further from the work I did for my internship. I have more input to the work I do and have learnt even more techniques.
How have you found the transition from university to a commercial setting?
I did realise that there would be a big change coming from a university to a commercial setting. The biggest difference was confidentiality. At university we were always encouraged to speak about our work and research however in a company that designs medical tests for commercial use you can’t tell people outside the company what you are really working on.
What do you love about the Dunedin lifestyle now that you’ve finished university?
Now that I have left university, I have really enjoyed having my weekends back! I love using my weekends to explore more of Dunedin; walking tracks, cafes, everything! It’s so nice doing these things knowing you don’t have an assignment deadline looming above you.
I have more of a routine because every day is the same (work 8:30-5pm) and then exercise and socialising in the evenings which is different from the university lifestyle were some days you only have one class so you could plan your day around that one hour.
Any general advice or tips for aspiring interns?
For the Pacific Edge internship, all the interns who were selected with me had experience in a lab setting (an honours year or a summer lab studentship) so if you are coming out of a degree I would definitely recommend doing a fourth year (Honours or Post-graduate Diploma) before leaving university.
My biggest tip for aspiring interns: apply! It’s better to give yourself a chance at an opportunity than to not send your CV in and never know whether you would have been selected for an interview. So, my biggest piece of advice is to apply for any job/internship that interests you because the worst that can happen is you are not selected which really isn’t that bad because eventually someone will pick you!
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