Lauren Skedd

Chemistry with Material Chemistry and Industrial Experience 2013

Your Time at the University

During the summer prior to second year, I made the most of our extended break and took a trip to Australia. Staying in the wonderful city of Sydney, I climbed the harbour bridge, visited the Olympic Park, scaled the Sydney Tower, met a koala at Taronga Zoo, saw the amazing Blue Mountains and even tried my luck surfing on the stunning Bondi Beach. In amongst all this, I worked on a fruit farm and in a hostel – each allowing me to meet fellow travellers and great people.

I spent my year in Industry working for Merck Chemicals, this provided an opportunity to relocate to Southampton and introduced me to some great friends - one of whom were recently married in Germany, a wedding I was delighted to attend.  My role at Merck prepared me for a professional working lifestyle, a skill I am able to carry forward through my career today alongside the friendships I made during this time.

Lauren Skedd

I did my Masters project in Professor Attfield’s group, I enjoyed working with the postgrads and seeing what their work involved, I even considered applying for a role in group before I got my first graduate job. I could relate some of my project work to what I was working on in Merck and share some of my experiences with the postgrads. A personal highlight of this year was being named in one of the groups publications, a nice recognition of my achievements within the group.

The Chemballs were always a highlight of the year, it was a great chance to socialise (and ceilidh dance!) with everyone in your course, including the lecturers, and a fantastic time was normally had by all.

Your Experiences Since Leaving the University

After graduating I applied for all sorts of jobs in and out of the UK, not really knowing what I wanted to do. I got a graduate job in Livingston working for a silicon wafer manufacturer, this was where I started my career as a process engineer and learned just how many processes are involved in making a silicon wafer! I gained a green belt Lean Six Sigma qualification, this is an industry wide accreditation for problem solving, data analysis and process control. During my time here I was also lucky enough to travel to sites in Japan and China. Along with gaining vital work experience and transferable skills I was able to save up for a deposit while living at home, allowing me to buy a property.

Some of the transferable skills between my Chemistry degree and process engineering include problem solving and data analysis. My year in industry also prepared me for a working environment for skills such as presenting, meeting deadlines, setting priorities, decision making and organisation.

After 4 ½ years it was time for a change and I got a job in the defence and aerospace industry in Edinburgh in a similar process engineering field. Although a similar job, the differences between the companies resulted in a more complex set of challenges which you have to adapt to. The process I worked on in my second job was in its infancy whereas previously all the processes were well defined, this allowed me to put in place some of the skills and techniques I learnt from my previous job. Having implemented improved process control I was moved to a senior role and I hope to establish similar controls in other processes in the plant.

Alumni Wisdom

Make the most of the extended summer holidays, you’re unlikely to get that again once you start working! Whether that be travelling, volunteering or gaining work experience, it’s a fantastic chance to enhance your CV.