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Case Study: Giulia

Personal details
Degree:BSc (Hons) Neuroscience Profile picture
School(s): School of Psychology and Neuroscience
Year of Graduation:Jun-2015
National of: Germany
Employment details
Organisation: University of Edinburgh
Job title: MSc by Research Integrative Neuroscience
Occupational Sector: Research Analysis
What has been your route to getting your current position?
In my final year at St Andrews I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do. I did a lot of research into possible job opportunities, and it became very obvious that a career in academia, following the completion of a PhD, seemed to be the main route for neuroscientists. I wasn't 100% sure that I really wanted to go into research so I decided to complete a Masters by Research first to get a better idea of what it would involve.
What does your job involve ?
The MSc at the University of Edinburgh provides a general overview about neuroscience in the first semester- we just had lectures from 9-5 almost every day. The second part of the MSc is a research project- you can either choose to complete 2 separate 3-months research projects or one long 6-months research project in any area you like.
What are the best bits of your job ?
I love working on my research project- we could choose from a huge variety of projects, because Edinburgh Neuroscience is such a large community. It is fun to be working independently on your own project, and I am getting a much better idea of what it would be like to work in research.
Why were you successful?
I think the most important thing for the MSc were the academic qualifications. So make sure you do well throughout your four years of University and not just in the last two. Of course extracurricular activities are always a plus. Throughout my four years at St Andrews, I was always involved in the Football Club, and I worked part-time in the Union.
What skills/ knowledge from your degree have you found particularly helpful in this role?
Being able to read academic papers and critically evaluate them has been a very useful skill. In general, literature research is a big part of doing research, so being good at it is very helpful.
What advice would you give to students wishing to follow the same path?
I think doing a Masters is definitely a good idea. It lets you gain more experience in what you are interested in and a Masters by Research gives you a realistic idea of what it would be like to complete a PhD. I now know that I don't want to go into academia, but I don't think the MSc was a waste of time, because I have gained a lot of valuable skills. A Masters tends to be very self-directed- so you decide how much work you want to do, which means you have to be quite diligent. I have time to play football, go out and spend time with friends, so it is definitely possible to have a social life. I am now applying for jobs again and one of the main things I see is that they want you to have experience- so whatever stage you are at, make sure you do summer internships, and get involved with the University/ community to be in a good position, should you want to apply for jobs outside of academia.