Naomi Walters, September 2019
Beyond research-based science careers
Ending the second year of my degree, I realised that a life in research wasn’t really for me.
Science undergrads, particularly in the life sciences, are often advised to go into a career in medicine or scientific research – both incredible career options – but if you’re anything like me, you probably feel like it’s not exactly enough… like something is missing. Although there are students who feel right at home in archetypal scientific careers, some don’t. And I’m one of them.
Don’t get me wrong, I love learning about the intricacies of the human body, probing the ‘whys’ behind a theory and maybe even analysing a bit of statistical data (not so much the latter). However, I also like to colour outside of the lines a little. It’s not just the discovering; it’s also concocting a completely new and creative solution. It’s being able to look at the bigger picture and assess how the science that I love learning about can be used to have a larger societal impact.
Science, creativity & communication
Maybe you’re a little like me, in that way? Maybe you like to read poems, maybe you love to debate, maybe you just love to communicate?
But I mean, does a job like that even really exist?
A job that allows you to use your understanding of a mental illness to develop a campaign which promotes an app that delivers supportive advice?
A job that allows you to research into why MPs aren’t funding a certain care treatment, in order to create material that assists in the changing of their minds?
A job that not only wants you to speak up, but really values your ideas?
Yes, a job like that actually does! It’s called the WPP Health Fellowship, which I found in the final year of my degree.
WPP is a creative transformation company, creating transformative ideas and outcomes for its clients through an integrated offer of communications, experience, commerce and technology.
And while you may not have heard of WPP, you can be reassured that it’s a globally successful company with over £15bn in revenues and more than 130,000+ individuals found in over 100 countries.
The WPP Health Fellowship gives a selected few creative scientific graduates the opportunity to use their learnt scientific knowledge and innate creative streak to impact the world for better.
What really encouraged me to apply when I learnt about the fellowship was the strap line on their website: ‘WPP cultivates science graduates into tomorrow’s brightest science communicators.’ This company is invested in using this two-year graduate scheme to develop your skills and nurture you into the most attentive, inventive and confident communicator; setting you up excellently for your career. By the end of it, you’ll be prepared for communicating with patient advocacy groups, health care professionals and everything in between, using a myriad of mediums.
I come into work every day, knowing that I’m making a difference, and I have loads of fun whilst doing it. My day might start with me researching media coverage around a scientific company, and it could then flow into brainstorming ideas for a campaign to increase awareness of a disease in the general public. After lunch, I could find myself planning the logistics of a conference for scientific professionals, and then I might finish the day preparing for future phone calls with journalists about NICE’s approval of a medicine.
And tomorrow, I’ll probably be doing something completely different. No day is the same, which keeps the job exciting. And, it also means that I’m constantly learning.
It’s really cool to wake up every day and be excited to come to work. And I really wish that someone would have told second-year Naomi that there are careers out there that allow you to embrace your inner nerd, imaginative ideas and deep desire to positively impact the world.
So, show-off scientist, I’m telling you.