1. Tell us about yourself
My name is Charley Harrison and I am 23 years old. I moved from the Midlands to Cambridge in 2015 to study a degree in Biomedical Science, graduating in 2018, and just never left!
Shortly after finishing university, I got a job at Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge, as a Medical Laboratory Assistant within the Endocrine Laboratory.
I achieved a promotion to Trainee Biomedical Scientist in 2019 and have since completed my Registration Portfolio, allowing me to practice as a fully registered Biomedical Scientist, with membership to the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).
While studying at ARU, I worked almost full-time hours in retail to support my studies, and although I found it challenging at times to juggle it all, graduating from university was a huge accomplishment and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
I would not be where I am today without my three years at ARU and the influences from all the people I met, in particular, the life-long friends I made and the wonderful lecturers whose enthusiasm and innovation sparked my passion and motivated me to start my career within Biomedical Science.
I am lucky that I always knew I wanted to be a Biomedical Scientist, so to wake up every day and go to work doing my dream job is just the best feeling, and my time at ARU was a large part of getting me to where I am today.
2. What is your fondest memory of ARU?
My fondest memory at ARU would have to be the Biomedical Science Quiz nights; getting to know the lecturers outside of the lecture hall and bonding with course mates and just having fun was invaluable during stressful term times… Even if the free drink tokens ensured we never did very well!
3. What has been your favourite job?
My favourite job is definitely my current job role as a Biomedical Scientist – we make a real difference to patients and their care.
Knowing we’ve managed to provide our service users with their results, or have helped doctors and consultants to make informed medical decisions about their patients’ care using our test results, is just the best feeling and offers a great sense of achievement after a busy and stressful day.
4. In one word, how would you describe ARU?
5. How did your time at ARU help you?
My time at ARU taught me a lot, not just the fundamental scientific knowledge I learnt on my course, but so much more. The modules in the course cover a wide range of topics within Biomedical Science; they touch upon all the specialisms and this ensured that I knew which section of Biomedical Science I wanted to practice in.
The practical work that we carried out, both inside and outside the lab, prepared me for the real-life job role; without these essential skills I would have really struggled when I started my first job outside of university. The support and guidance from the lecturers and lab staff, in particular my tutor and final project supervisor gave me insight into the job and really boosted my passion for this field.
Another big part of my ARU experience was the social side of university. Through my course, I met lifelong friends who I share common interests with, and we formed such a close bond over the three years. My university experience would not have been the same without them; we supported each other through everything and there was a lot of late nights in the library, snacks and hilarity along the way.
6. What did you love about your chosen course?
I loved the fact that the course was so varied and full of so many different elements, from learning about anatomy and physiology to studying case studies, to interpreting test results in order to give diagnoses.
We had practical sessions in Haematology where we worked out our own blood types, and we grew fruit flies from eggs in petri dishes in genetics. We even had a courtroom case practical, where we had to determine a patient’s cause of death using test results, their medical history, and animal organs that had been adapted to represent the cause of death.
No two days were the same, and this was something I really loved about the course. There really was something for everyone!
7. What advice would you give to current students as they’re preparing to graduate?
My advice would be to try and get some real-life experience, don’t be afraid to go for a lower-level job to start with.
Also, do your research. There are so many avenues to go down after graduating with a Biomedical Science Degree so there will be something for everyone.
Lastly, don’t panic! There is this idea that as soon as you graduate, you have to get a job or you somehow haven’t tried hard enough, but that’s not true. Biomedical Science can be a competitive field to get into, so take your time, don’t rush, do your research and reach out to professionals for their insight and their help.
Don’t be afraid to take the plunge and try something new, you won’t regret it!
8. What do you know now that you wish you had known whilst studying?
I wish I had just enjoyed the experience more. At times, I would go from lectures, to work, to open access to study, to lectures again, and back to work, and I would make myself miss out on some of the social aspects of the university experience.
I think that’s my one regret, because at the end of the course, most people move on and have different responsibilities, so it’s rare that you are all in the same place together. I wish I had known to be in the moment more.
9. Who was the biggest influence on your career?
The biggest influence on my career is not one person but a collection of people. The lecturers at ARU for Biomedical Science were such an inspiration during my time studying there. Both their passion and their experience and knowledge influenced me to want to be a Biomedical Scientist.
Hearing about the research they were working on or reading their past publications inspired me and even inspires me now to be the best I can be and to work towards contributing my own research in the future to inspire the next generation of Biomedical Scientists.
10. What advice would you give your younger self?
You will end up exactly where you are supposed to be, so just relax, enjoy yourself and work hard!
11. Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know.
I absolutely love to read and I read very quickly – once I start a book, it’s very rare that I will put it down until I’ve finished it. In the past, this has resulted in me going to sleep at 5am when it’s light outside, because I’ve finally finished a book that I stupidly started late the night before.
12. What’s next?
I am currently working on my IBMS Specialist Portfolio which is the next step in my career. This involves a lot of work and should take me up to three years to complete, so during this time, my main goal is to expand my skills and learn from those around me. I’m fortunate to work with some extremely knowledgeable and experienced scientists.
And then, who knows? I might even come back to ARU to do my Masters in Biomedical Science!