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Inspiring young people into science careers

Inspiring young people into science careers

Aysha Fasal, a Year 13 student at Seven Kings High School was part of the Social Mobility Foundation’s (SMF) Aspiring Professionals Programme in 2012. The programme is designed to support high-achieving students from low-income backgrounds by providing a tailored package of support including mentoring and university visits, and often crucially for the students, work experience placements. Here Aysha writes about her experience on the programme, and how her work experience placement was so beneficial.

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For months I had been struggling to get some work experience at pharmacies, hospitals and GP surgeries but without the right connections I was unsuccessful and came very close to giving up.

However, just as I was getting increasingly disheartened my Sixth Form told us about the Social Mobility Foundation and its Aspiring Professionals Programme and I decided to apply; it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I was invited to skill sessions, workshops, university visits, offered personal statement guidance and was also appointed a mentor (someone with a profession in the science sector whom I could ask for help and support). Over the summer I was also lucky enough to get offered an internship at iQur Ltd, a pharmaceutical company, where I had the most amazing experience.

My work experience at iQur Ltd gave me great insight into the development and research behind the production of vaccines. I learnt and performed techniques used in the laboratory for the research and development of novel vaccines, which allowed me to improve my practical skills in the lab and I was exposed to advanced techniques that have become critical in drug discovery projects. For example I used vaccine constructs that were made in yeast and prepared samples from these for gel electrophoresis. At the beginning I had no understanding of what I was doing but by the end I felt like I was an expert. Having carried out the process of electrophoresis during my internship, I had an advantage in my studies too, as it was also in our A-Level AQA Biology syllabus.  

Being part of the SMF has been wonderful, my skills have improved, I have had the chance to experience new things and have met some new people. I'm very grateful to them as during the SMF experience I realised that doing pharmacy was the right career choice, and the internship really helped me discover this.

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Despite having a large number of students on their Aspiring Professionals Programme interested in pursuing a science degree, the SMF finds that support from the sector in terms of providing placements, is much lower than they see in fields such as banking, finance or law. If you would like to to offer a short 1-2 week placement to a high-achieving Year 12 student, or would like more information, please contact the SMF at emily.hodgson@socialmobility.org.uk

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