Abbas completed a PhD in chemistry as a mature student...
While I was writing up my thesis, my university department needed a laboratory technician. I applied for the job and, after a series of tests and interviews, I was appointed - initially on a temporary basis but later to a permanent role. Having a familiarity with the laboratory, and its rules and regulations, helped me to obtain the job.
My PhD was very relevant for this job, as I learned to work with sophisticated equipment used to create high vacuum for mimicking stratospheric conditions. I also gained experience in handling dangerous materials. As well as this I developed computer software skills and hands-on expertise of obtaining data by using infrared spectropscopy.
I'd recommend to anyone interested in this role to consider that teamworking is as important as technical knowledge in order to succeed in the job.
My role involves making the laboratory safe, clean and ready for performing chemistry experiments. This includes a range of activities from assisting academics and students with their needs in the laboratory to maintaining and operating laboratory equipment such as ice machines, water deionizers, rotary evaporators, infrared and NMR spectroscopy machines. I am also involved with vacuum distillation, making standard solutions for titration and making dried solvents.
The most important task involved in my current role is to ensure that students and staff work safely. I have been trained in first aid if an emergency arises.
I most enjoy working with academics and students and being part of an active team. The least enjoyable aspect of the job is when students leave a mess of waste chemicals after their experiments, and we have to spend an inordinate amount of time assessing how to dispose of them appropriately.
I am likely to carry on in my position but, if I did decide to change roles, I would seek a position as an experimental officer in a chemistry research group.
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