Read about Ella’s experience working at Absolute Antibody throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. She started as an intern and quickly joined the team full-time. While the world was adapting to many changes, she was able to advance her career by learning new skills and working with a great team of scientists.
Looking back 16 months ago, who knew that the world was going to be plunged into the biggest global pandemic in any of our lifetimes. My life was mapped out for me as I was just finishing my degree in Biomedical science at the University of Chester. Following this, I was planning on a summer internship in a laboratory to gain some valuable experience for my future. Events escalated and in March 2020, following a government announcement, I found myself back at home having had my final few months at university sadly cut short. What was I going to do with this new lockdown life?
Then out of the blue an opportunity arose, a friend who was already working at Absolute Antibody alerted me of an internship position assisting with the production of DNA in their upstream labs. As quickly as I could, I applied for the position, went through the interview process, and was delighted to be offered the job and started within a week. On joining Absolute Antibody, my initial role was to produce DNA preps which were to be used in the production of COVID-19 antibodies. I was so pleased to be making an effective contribution to the team and helping to fight the battle against the Coronavirus. I spent my initial few weeks producing DNA, before I was trained in more of the process. From there I gained a lot more confidence and I was lucky enough to be offered a year’s contract with the company.
During the first few weeks, Catherine, the company’s Chief Scientific Officer, invited me and another new hire to join her on a radio interview to highlight Absolute Antibody’s work and our role in regard to the pandemic. The interview also showcased how the company employs talent straight out of university. This was an excellent opportunity, and I was really nervous as it was my first time being broadcasted live. However, ultimately it was great exposure and an experience which I will never forget! After my initial settling in period, I became more confident in the role, and started to train new employees in DNA preparation. I was able to pass on my knowledge to them and ensured they followed the processes correctly. I found this aspect rewarding, seeing new people come into the company, picking up the process independently, and knowing that I trained them to a good standard.
As the months progressed, I settled into my new role; learning, developing, and building my competence within a professional lab environment. This was now mid-pandemic and the workload was increasing, all the while I felt extremely motivated as I knew that whatever my contribution was, it was helping towards finding that critical vaccination. My personal progression continued, and I was given responsibility to complete projects alone. This allowed me to learn the whole process from start to finish. I was able to prepare DNA for a customer which I then transfected and followed it to the final step of purifying the antibodies and shipping them to the customer.
There were certain challenges along the way; during the height of the pandemic we had to complete our work in shifts with minimal contact and less hours, which naturally required me to work at pace while ensuring there was no loss of attention to detail throughout the process. Throughout every aspect of the process, I assured it was done with precision, checking my work and ensuring it was at a high quality for the customer.
Following the completion of my own project, I was given the opportunity to start cloning. This involved producing new antibodies internally from pre-made DNA. It was a really exciting new aspect for me, as I was able to put the theory of my dissertation into practical work within a professional setting. This is definitely a highlight for me during my year at Absolute Antibody, I treated this like my very own child!
The variety of the work has been a key highlight too, as I have moved around the upstream and downstream labs and had chance to work in Line-C which covered the whole process on a smaller scale. Throughout the months I’ve realized the importance of the accuracy of the work we do and how this impacts the customers and our brand. This made me realize that we are not just part of a small lab in Wilton, but we are part of a much larger growing global organization which is really exciting.
Reflecting on the last 16 months, some highs are the great team I’ve worked with in all of the labs, the team spirit, and the teamwork, especially during such a difficult period of time. The great support from the management team has really helped me gain confidence and traits which will help me through my future career. Also, the great culture in celebrating special events; birthdays, holidays and even the Euros 2020 have all contributed to making this such a great experience.
I would like to say a huge thank you to Catherine and her management team and everybody within Absolute Antibody who I’ve been lucky enough to work with. I have lots of great memories, as well as new skills which I will take away with me as I embark on the next step of my career as a Physician’s Associate.
We would like to thank Ella for her undeniable contributions to Absolute Antibody during her time working here. It is moving to watch her grow as an individual during an unprecedented time in the world and within our company as we adapted throughout the pandemic.
We are always looking for bright individuals to join our team. Whether you are a new college graduate or looking to advance your career in the recombinant antibody industry, check out our careers page for current position openings or, if you don’t see a position you are looking for, email us your CV/resume to firstname.lastname@example.org.
8-10th September 2021