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BTEC and A-Level students - lets talk about what's next

BTEC and A-Level students - lets talk about what's next

12 Jun 17:00 by Matthew Rollinson


Underpinning LiCa Scientific Ltd, is an intention that we have as much social impact as we can.

This manifests itself in many ways, OK mainly two, (1) giving to good causes especially local ones and (2) we give our time to help people gain access to the chemistry market regardless of whether we think we’ll actually place them.

This started me off giving presentations, lectures, careers fairs, writing CV guides, interview guides, and other activities. I literally accept as many opportunities to speak about this that I can. I don’t care where or when. I’m passionate about people making the best decision they can in their career. This drives me more than anything else and manifests itself in the work I do, books I read and how I develop myself professionally.  

If I can help someone get a job they love, or take a better career direction in chemistry or life science, sign me up. I do this for my day-job at LiCa Scientific too.  

This led me to recently talk to every single lower-sixth Chemistry A-Level and BTEC student at Aquinas college (where I also did my A-Levels!) which took a day and a bit. They will progress onto either degree apprenticeships, University or the world of work. A massive moment in your life, and also a moment where big decisions are about to be made.

With respect to young adults at 17, it’s difficult at this point to know what the questions are to ask, let alone what the best decisions are!

What we wanted to achieve with this presentation, is helping the students out with understanding the next career steps more holistically. That’s all. I’ve spent 15 years placing scientists and here is my two-cents, on what directions and opportunities are coming ahead.  

So back to Aquinas. I speak to graduates a lot who have been though the academic system, come out of the other side. Most do well, but I’m afraid some do struggle. I want the people I meet to do well, so I gave a presentation on what to know to do just that. Simple enough, 1 hour to prep a few ideas and plant some seeds - it covered:

  • Importance of seeing University as ‘training for industry’ – 93% of graduates will complete their education at BSc or MSc/MChem level and move into industry. So getting as much out of it as you can that will matter to your career.
  • What the fine chem / pharma industry actually does and what kind of roles could you point towards. What does your new boss want to read about on your CV?
  • Nowadays, A-Level doesn’t involve a lot of bench time. So introducing HPLC, NMR, GC, UV spec and the importance of getting experience on these techniques at University. Basically if you see an Acronym it’s probably important.  
  • What happens on a Higher Education Programme and where are the opportunities to boost the CV are…  
  • Degree Apprenticeships and why they are such a fantastic idea to do. LiCa Clients you got your mentions don’t worry!!
  • Why CV’s are terrible for communicating your skills as a scientist. How to work with this ‘best ugly we got’ means of communication
  • One basic communication model that helps you explain a complex idea in a way people think they understand (STAR)
  • Personal profile development. Looking at LinkedIn, Twitter and your presence as an ‘Emerging Scientist’. You can be part of this market NOW and compound years of Social Media ‘presence’ that can pay dividends in years to come!!
  • What opportunity sometimes looks like away from the polished rec process. Basically I introduced the concept of the ‘Stressed out Lab Manager needing staff NOW!!’ (seeing as a good chunk of hiring managers exactly fit the profile). Any clients reading this you know who you are x
  • How to find and approach Lab Managers… may have let slip about the place on the Internet hardly anyone knows about where Lab Managers email addresses and direct dials are kept too J

Finally, the big question. The first question that needs to cross your mind when thinking about opportunity.





Start there, work backwards, work hard. Good luck and you know where to find me anytime with questions, CV review etc  

If you attended this presentation, then you’re welcome to a copy of the slides and your chemistry tutor can send you them anytime.