Meet Natasha, Level 6 Laboratory Scientist – Advent Bioservices
Why did you choose to pursue an advanced therapies apprenticeship?
Ever since my brother’s life was improved due to the manufacture of a recent vaccine, I have wanted to improve the life of others. An apprenticeship in the advanced therapies sector has provided me with the opportunity to aid in the manufacture and research of cancer vaccines. It is rewarding knowing that I can make a difference.
How has ATAC supported your development?
ATAC set up webinars that can increase your understanding of the advanced therapies sector. These webinars are really useful in gaining insight into other diseases and treatments outside of the company you work with. For example, even though I do not work with CAR-T cells I have learnt through the webinars how they work and how they are made.
What has been the most rewarding or interesting project that you have been involved in and why?
I have worked in the development of a cancer vaccine for a rare brain tumour and have been involved in projects to optimise our current procedures such as experimenting with current automated machines. The idea that I am helping reduce the pressure of working within a cleanroom is rewarding. The potential to optimise the clinical outcome of the drug is even better!
What would you say to someone who is thinking of pursuing an apprenticeship in advanced therapies?
Pursuing an apprenticeship in advanced therapies is a great opportunity to learn important skills and knowledge required in the scientific sector without the added worry of university debts, not to mention the salary. The main advice I would give is to be curious. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Explore. This apprenticeship offers you the opportunity to gain experience from the experts, so use this to your advantage.
You were Advent’s first apprentice ever! How did you find it being the only apprentice at your organisation?
As Advent’s first apprentice, there have been times when it has been difficult managing each stage of the apprenticeship. However, the university and my apprenticeship advisor have helped me considerably by answering any questions. Everyone has been so friendly! Being the only apprentice has allowed the company to fully focus on my learning, allowing me to have the opportunity to help with multiple projects. I also have connections to other apprentices via a WhatsApp group set up by other apprentices. Now and then we meet up and have some fun. So, the community feeling is still strong.
You’ve now proceeded onto a Level 6 after completing your Foundation Degree. What was it that made you want to continue your studies for another two years?
I loved having the ability to learn whilst I’m working. The hands-on experience has been very beneficial for me, and not only have I grown in my career, but I have also grown as a person. It is for this reason that I decided to continue my learning by continuing onto a Level 6 apprenticeship. In doing so, I can achieve a full degree in bioscience and become more involved in setting up projects and handling more complex scientific procedures.
What are your future plans?
In the future, I aim to work within the scientific sector with the knowledge that I have gained throughout my apprenticeship. It would be nice to continue working in research or process development projects aimed at optimising and improving vaccines or other therapeutic products.