An Insight into the 1 Day Laboratory Skills

Laboratory skills

On the 11th December 2021, I was lucky enough to be selected to attend our 1 Day Intensive Laboratory Skills course, which was taught by our CEO, Dr Natalie Kenny. As I am currently employed by BioGrad, I was excited to witness the work we do first-hand, from a student’s point of view. Safe to say, I was thoroughly impressed with not only the smooth flow of the course and its content, but also how relaxed and uplifting the atmosphere was, meaning myself and the other students felt more comfortable and were eager to interact.

Prior to the course, I had next to no experience in a real, functioning laboratory, and I am not ashamed to admit that, as a Marketing Executive, I feared I simply lacked the scientific knowledge to complete this course! However, these anxious thoughts quickly vanished shortly after the course began, when Dr Kenny started off the day with a warm welcome, some breakfast treats, and ice breakers to allow us to familiarise ourselves with each other. She made sure to reiterate the fact that the course is an introductory one that allows students with no previous laboratory experience to get a feel for what working in a laboratory will be like, where they can also practice techniques necessary for someone aiming to pursue a career in a laboratory-based environment, such as research science.

The morning consisted of learning the health and safety rules of the laboratory, and a guide on how to complete risk assessments and COSHH forms, a skill that is crucial when completing laboratory work. Dr Kenny then proceeded to teach us the art of pipetting, a skill which we were able to put to the test later in the day through tasks such as serial dilution.

Throughout the afternoon, we learnt further techniques used in everyday laboratory life, such as understanding molar equations in order to measure and dilute stock solutions. I found this part particularly interesting as, having recently completed a degree in mathematics, I enjoyed finding out how these equations could be applied to a real-life scientific scenario. Dr Kenny was excellent when it came to answering questions (which I had many of!) and would happily jump back and re-explain things if we didn’t understand. I feel that is what this made the course so effective, as we were constantly made to feel that our questions were valid and that it was okay to not get it the first time.

After having completed this introduction to the laboratory as a member of the Marketing Team for BioGrad, I feel I am ready for a career change! Who knew that one day in the lab would be enough to make me want to swap the office-wear for a lab coat?

Joking aside, I felt that this course, whether you’re a student looking for an access course to complete one of our more in-depth courses, or you are thinking of a career change and are wanting to gain immersive experience in a laboratory, is perfect for you. Never at any point did I feel bored, as Dr Kenny’s bubbly personality ensured the content was taught in an extremely engaging way. This also eased any tension there was at the beginning of the day, as by the afternoon, everyone felt comfortable enough to be able to converse and engage as a group.

What I thought made the course special was that it truly felt like a safe space had been created for students, who may not have ever stepped in a laboratory in their life, to gain hands-on, immersive experience and nobody was made to feel stupid. It was also great to meet people from all different backgrounds, who all had different reasons for being there and had different stories to tell.

I think it is great that Dr Kenny gets the BioGrad Team involved on our training courses, as it not only helps to give us an idea of how the company runs from an outsider’s point of view, but it also allows us to constantly find ways to enhance the student experience. By doing this, we can continue to evolve as a company, while staying true to the vision that Dr Kenny had when she founded BioGrad eight years ago.

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