Work Experience

The LMB hosts one week work experience placements in June-August for up to four students in Years 10-13. The LMB also participates in the Nuffield Research Placement scheme. If you are an undergraduate level student, you may be interested in our summer studentships.

LMB Work Experience Placements

Our exciting work experience placements allow you to find out more about working in science and give you the chance to experience the breadth of scientific and support activities which take place in a research institute like the LMB. Through our programme of work experience activities, you will get the opportunity to shadow a researcher and take part in bench work, learn about and help out with specialist techniques such as flow cytometry and NMR, and experience the work of science support teams such as media prep and glass wash.

Applications are now closed for summer 2018 work experience placements. We will be accepting applications for summer 2019 work experience placements from October 2018.

We will be looking for students in Years 10-13 who are enthusiastic, interested in and show a flare for the biological sciences. You should be keen to learn, enjoy meeting new people and being challenged. You should also have good attention to detail and the ability to follow instructions.

If you would like to apply, please send the following to public.engagement@mrc-lmb.cam.ac.uk (please add this email address to your ‘safe senders’ list so our reply doesn’t end up in your junk box) when applications re-open in October 2018.

  • CV (this should include a list of the subjects you are studying with predicted/obtained grades, and brief details of your extra-curricular activities, hobbies and any previous work experience).
  • Statement explaining your reasons for applying to the LMB and the areas of LMB research that interest you or in which you are keen to gain experience. Your statement should be no longer than 400 words.

We are very interested to learn how you heard about the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology and the work experience opportunities we offer here. When submitting your application please tell us:

  • How you first heard about the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology
  • How you learned about our work experience opportunities

Your answers to these questions will not be used to judge your application.

We have two application deadlines (to account for differing school timetables):

  • Up to two work experience placements will be allocated from applications received by Friday 4th January 2019. We will respond to applicants letting you know whether you have been successful or not by Friday 18th January 2019.
  • Up to two further work experience placements will be allocated from applications received by Friday 22nd March 2019. We will respond to applicants letting you know whether you have been successful or not by Friday 5th April 2019.

We can accept applications from UK and EU nationals, and all international students who have a visa allowing them to undertake unpaid work in the UK.

Previous work experience students have said:

“I just wanted to say thank you so much for giving me the wonderful opportunity to do work experience at the LMB. I found it incredibly useful especially since I am making uni applications now, and it was also a very enjoyable week as I got to see and be involved in so much current work in the fields that I want to pursue.”

“I had a wonderful week at the LMB. It was such an enjoyable and valuable experience that I’m sure will be very useful in the future. Thank you also to everyone who hosted and looked after me throughout the week, and allowed me to see what their work is like.”

Nuffield Research Placements

Nuffield Research Placements give students in their first year of a post-16 science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) course the opportunity to work in leading STEM-focused industries, research institutes and UK Universities. Projects last 4-6 weeks during the summer holidays and involve working alongside practicing STEM professionals.

Students who don’t have a family history of going to university or who attend schools in less well-off areas are particularly encouraged to apply.

Applications for Nuffield Research Placements are administered regionally throughout the UK, and should not be sent directly to the LMB. Further details on how to apply for a Nuffield Research Placement can be found here.

Our 2017 Nuffield Research Placement student, Amy, said:

Why did you apply for a Nuffield Research Placement?

Amy with her supervisor, Leticia, and the rest of the Sale group at the LMB.

“My chemistry teacher/head of post-16 recommended I apply to a research placement to gain experience to put on my personal statement to show my interest in biology as I am hoping to do a biology degree at university. I love the variety in biology but it also means it is difficult to decide what kind of career I want to pursue and what area of biology I wanted to follow so by applying for a placement I hoped it would provide me with some guidance as to what a career in research is like and how I would spend my days should I want to become a researcher.”

What was your project about and did you know anything about the area before you started the placement?

“My project title was: ‘Generation of a human knock-out cell line using CRISPER/Cas9’. I was assisting my supervisor on her current projects, the first of which was looking at the effect of knocking out a certain DNA repair protein in the replication of structured DNA. The second project was trying to replicate already published research into mapping the origins of DNA replication. Prior to my placement, I had no idea what molecular biology involved, let alone what any of my project was about. My supervisor was incredibly supportive and provided me with scientific papers to read that helped me develop my knowledge on the subject and gain an understanding of the project theory.”

Was the placement what you expected it to be?

“Going into the placement I didn’t really know what to expect as I had never been to a real lab before so when I walked in the doors of the LMB I was shocked. It was a beautiful building to be working in, the people were amazing and they all taught me something about their projects when they had time. I learnt more, did more and had more fun than I could have imagined. I got to try so many different protocols with a wide range of apparatus that I didn’t even know existed!”

How did your supervisor help you with your project?

“When I first started, I was nervous about the fact that I knew nothing about molecular biology but my supervisor was incredibly supportive and we spent my first day going through the theory of the project and she gave me some papers to read (which we discussed later in the week once I read them). Leticia explained things as many times as I needed her to and didn’t mind me asking the same questions until I completely understood. She showed me how to do the practical side of things and let me practice on my own, giving me tips on how to improve next time. She also reminded me that every mistake I could make she had done already and that I had to make mistakes to learn. Leticia was also a great help when it came to writing my report, I wrote what I had done and she corrected it if I had forgotten a step or gotten a value wrong.”

Did you gain any new skills, both scientific and general work skills, from undertaking your placement?

“I gained so many skills I didn’t expect over the four weeks, some I didn’t even expect – my ability to decipher train and bus timetables greatly improved! In terms of scientific skills, I can’t count how many new things I tried. I was in tissue culture one day, making an agarose gel and loading it another day then working with bacteria the next. I also learnt basic lab etiquette, how to keep my work space tidy when I’m working with a lot of materials, communication between the people working in the lab, how to give a lab meeting and how to keep a lab book. In terms of work skills, I found I was using my time as effectively as possible to finish my report and have time to complete the day’s experiments. I think my language skills greatly benefitted from writing the report – I developed my scientific vocabulary and learnt how to structure my report to demonstrate what I had done at my placement clearly.”

Has your experience helped you to decide on a career path?

“I discovered that I really love molecular biology and that DNA is way cooler than A-levels make it seem. My placement has proven I definitely want to study biology and given me a clear idea of what research is like on a day to day basis.”

What advice would you give to students applying for a Nuffield Research Placement?

“To future research placement applicants, I would say to just go all in! Definitely apply if you have an interest in STEM subjects. Me telling you about my experience is just one example of what you could be doing, the opportunities within STEM are hard to come by when you are under 18 so take every chance you get (and Nuffield is an amazing opportunity!!) If you do get a placement do as much as you can because although four weeks seems like a long time it goes so quickly! Ask questions and don’t be afraid to ask again if you don’t fully understand as your supervisor has had to do the same to get to where they are.”

What are your future plans?

“In the not so distant future I hope to study biological sciences at university and continue education, get my PhD and conduct my own post-doc research! Should I be able to, I also want to provide another student with the same opportunity Nuffield Research Placements and the LMB provided me with and become a supervisor myself!”