How working in UWE Bristol’s Covid-19 testing facility has prepared me for my future career in science.

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By Daniel, BSc(Hons) Forensic Science 

UWE Bristol student, Daniel, tells us what it’s like to work at the new walk-in Covid-19 testing facility on Frenchay Campus. He shares his experience of helping the local community during the pandemic and how the skills he’s gained have boosted his employability. Keep reading to hear Daniel’s story. 

Boosting my employability at UWE Bristol

Hi, I’m Daniel and I’m a second year Forensic Science student here at UWE Bristol. Since the summer, I’ve been working as a test assistant at our new Covid-19 testing facility, helping with asymptomatic testing for students.  

I went to the testing facility for a Covid-19 test myself and saw more volunteers were needed. I decided to apply for the role as I wanted to help the local community and gain lab experience to add to my CV.   

My experience of working at the testing facility 

Before starting the role, I took part in an induction day, where we looked around the testing facility, watched training videos and learned about the different roles. There are normally 2 or 3 test assistants to each booth, so understanding each role ensures there’s enough support if we’re overbooked or understaffed.  

Working as a test assistant involves performing Covid-19 tests using a swab testing kit. This process involves passing a swab into one of our testing booths, where the participant then swabs the inside of their mouth and nose. The swab is placed inside a test tube and passed back to the test assistant. The test tube is then processed by a testing operative to check for a chemical reaction, which shows a positive result for Covid-19. 

The role has enabled me to apply the knowledge gained through my degree directly to the lab by maintaining high hygiene standards. All test assistants are required to wear personal protective equipment (PPE), replace our gloves after administering each test and regularly disinfect the booths. This experience has given me a unique insight into working in lab conditions, preparing me for my future science career. 

“In the future, I know I’ll look back and feel proud to have contributed to the national Covid-19 response. It feels really special to be able to play a part.” 

Benefits for my future career 

It’s been a great opportunity seeing the testing process step-by-step, from start to finish. I’ve gained professional science experience and skills such as teamworking, communication and working under pressure, which will help me to stand out when applying for jobs. I’ll also be able to demonstrate my adaptability to different work environments and show a level of commitment sought after by employers. 

As part of my degree, I’m planning to apply for a science-based sandwich year next year. I hope the practical lab experience I’ve gained while working as a test assistant will give me an edge when applying for a placement. Undertaking a sandwich year will enable me to gain even more experience in the lab, supporting my employability, as well as my degree studies. 

The degree topic I’ve enjoyed most has been Crime Scene Investigation, so I’m interested in pursuing a career in this area. There’s a wide range of career options available to Forensic Science graduates and I’m confident the new lab-based skills I’ve gained will improve my career prospects when I graduate. I’m staying open-minded and looking for opportunities to apply my new transferable skills. 

From January 2021, we’ll be conducting more mass Covid-19 testing on Frenchay Campus, which I’ll be directly involved in. I’m looking forward to continuing my role as a test assistant as I’ve enjoyed helping the local community. It’s been great connecting with people who’ll remember the support offered by the testing facility for years to come. 

Find out more about asymptomatic Covid-19 testing for students at UWE Bristol. 

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