Saskia's job title is Junior Measurement Scientist Apprentice at the National Physical Laboratory
What I do
I use, design and repair equipment for taking measurements across a wide range of sectors from medicine to security.
Apprenticeships are great. I’m in a better position going for jobs than someone straight out of university as I have a head start with my real-life working experience and don’t have any debt!
Hear more about Saskia's role by watching the video below...
How I became a technician
I’ve always had a fascination for science and a need to know why things work the way they do. I went to college and did A levels in Maths, Physics, and Philosophy but knew in my heart university wouldn’t be the right path for me as I much prefer actually doing things as opposed to just learning how to do things.
I like having a consistent and busy routine and live locally to the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), so the role seemed like a perfect fit.
A typical day in my
I start at 9 am and check emails and see what I have booked in for the day. Usually, I have some sort of measurement service work for customers from a wide range of sectors. A lot of companies use radioactive materials for research purposes and these sectors can be as wide ranging as medicine, security, and energy. I then head to the lab making sure I have my lab coat, safety goggles, over shoes, and gloves on. One of the measurement services I do is for a medical company. They send us vials of fluorine which they use on patients for cancer screenings, and they send it to us to check for any impurities to verify what’s in it. When the measurements are finished, I do the data analysis and create the certificates that get sent back to the customer.
After lunch, and in between waiting for measurements to finish or when I don’t have time in the lab, I’m usually helping with odd jobs in different labs. It might be filling out paperwork or, for example, I spent a day last week going around every single lab checking all the safety labels because they had gone out of date. It is quite busy, and I can be here, there, and everywhere, which I like!
I make sure all my paperwork is up to date for that day.
A surprising fact about my job
One of my colleagues created the first Kibble balance (an electromechanical measuring instrument) in 1976 and he is still working here at 75 years old. The fact I have been able to work alongside him and have him teach me things has been awe inspiring.
A little more about my everyday role
The best bits about working in a team
I mostly work with the radio chemistry team and there are six of us. I think it’s great because as an apprentice all the people are at different stages in their careers, and they all specialise in something different, so I get exposure to a range of fields and techniques. They are so supportive and there is no better way of learning than from people at the top of their field - it’s inspiring.
The most exciting thing I’ve achieved so far in my job
I get to work on so many exciting projects it’s mind-blowing! I think the thing I am most proud of to date though is the work I’m doing with a team who are developing a new, more efficient and effective way of detecting breast cancer using ultrasound - which is a lot less painful for patients than other methods. They needed volunteers for the first stages of human trials, and I was one of them. They later gave a presentation which showed all the data from their findings, and I could see the point on the graph that was me!
The next steps in my career journey
My apprenticeship finishes soon and I’m going to apply for the role I’m currently working in. I would like to stay working here for a few years. I want to be organising or running some sort of measurement work or research work that makes a difference.
I have always had a fascination for science and a need to know why things work the way they do. I have always loved Lego.
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