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Joanna Sykes

Joanna Sykes

Graduated in 2020

MSc in Biotechnology, Bioprocessing and Business Management

Nationality: British

First Degree: BSc Molecular Biology

Current job: Global Operations Graduate Programme, AstraZeneca

I chose Warwick because it was close to home, and the business school has a very good reputation. This course is unique in that it combined biology with business, so I thought it would be the right course for me. Being a Master's student was good at Warwick, as the University is very centred towards a postgraduate atmosphere. There was a lot of contact time which I liked, and I felt like I had lots of support.

Whilst I was unsure of whether the course was helping me at the time, it gave me many transferable skills, such as communication, teamwork etc that were focused in a business environment. I definitely feel like the course increased my confidence, which is what made me successful at my interview for my job now. I also enjoyed how multi-cultural the course was, and I have met many friends for life, from across the globe.

I gained a much better understanding of business generally, and how it related to the studies that I have previously done. It gave me a good appreciation for the struggles of individual companies. I definitely think that the business modules were the best on the course. In terms of the impact, the business side set me up perfectly for a role within the pharmaceuticals industry, as the case studies in my business modules align perfectly with my day to day work now.

I went from this Master's course straight into AstraZeneca’s Global Operations Graduate Programme. I am currently working at AstraZeneca, on a number of rotations throughout operations, and will have the opportunity to go and live/work abroad for 8 months. Working for a big pharmaceutical company, I can still use my biology background, but combine it with a more practical approach as I dive into more managerial positions. For me this was the big difference, as I wanted to move away from more lab-based roles.

I went to Nestle and did a summer internship in quality assurance. Although not specific to science, this gave me a good understanding of how a business works. I would recommend that anyone looking at going into industry should look for an industrial placement. I don’t believe that it has to be related to your chosen career area, but instead it just needs to give you transferable knowledge.

I also went to Malawi in Africa and taught First Aid. This was an opportunity in which I went completely out of my comfort zone. I definitely believe that this bettered me as a person, and made me lots more confident! If you ever have a similar opportunity, no matter how daunting it seems, I would definitely recommend going for it!

Getting a job after University can be really difficult, and takes up a large amount of time, especially if you are applying along-side your Master's degree like I did. My one bit of advice, is to remember that the Master's is the most important, and the job applications can always be done the following year.