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Student view: studying in Switzerland

We spoke to undergraduate Chemistry student Alina Zakrjevsky, who secured a placement in Medicinal Chemistry at Roche in Switzerland – one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world.

 

The 12-month placement began in September 2019 and saw Alina integrated into one of their research laboratories, exposed to the key elements in drug discovery and development. she had the chance to work in leading multidisciplinary research teams and was one of only 20 students selected across the whole of Europe to receive this incredible opportunity.

How was the application process?

Applying online to Roche was quite straightforward. I just needed to submit my CV and write a little bit about my work experience. I managed to get an interview, which took place online and lasted for about 30 minutes. I was asked about my motivation for applying to the programme, followed by loads of technical questions which tested my knowledge of practical and organic chemistry.

What support did you receive for your application?

My supervisor Dr Jones and adviser Dr Di Tommaso went through my CV and cover letter multiple times as I edited and improved them. Several of my organic lecturers arranged do to mock interviews with me, so by the time the interview came around, I’d had a few practice rounds which was very helpful. I felt confident in my ability for the application process as my mentor, Stefan Bishop, has continuously helped me navigate the science field through his knowledge, which has been invaluable to my progression as a scientist.

My mentor, Stefan Bishop, has continuously helped me navigate the science field through his knowledge, which has been invaluable to my progression as a scientist.

Tell us more about the placement.

It's really exciting as it involved living in Switzerland for a year. The location was great as it’s was only a 20-minute cycle to the French and German borders. My placement was research-based, which is what I want to do in the future so I think this will set me up very well for a career in research. There are a lot of benefits to the placement and Roche was a great company to work for.

What would you like to do in the future?

I would like to work in the field of synthetic chemistry. I am most interested in applying synthetic principles to green chemistry, as I wish to make a positive contribution to the environment through science. This will involve designing synthetic routes which reduce/prevent the use and production of environmentally hazardous substances, whilst still producing the same everyday products that we need.