#NAW2024: Will Smith on his Process Development Apprenticeship

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This National Apprenticeship Week (5-11 February 2024), Will Smith, Process Development Scientist at 4basebio and a level 6 student at Kent University, shares insights into his apprenticeship journey after leaving the university. He also takes us through the different stages of his apprenticeship and the benefits he has achieved. 

Can you provide a brief introduction about yourself and the apprenticeship program you're currently involved in?

My name is Will Smith and I have just started my level 6 top up with Kent University while working with 4basebio as a process development scientist. I started my apprenticeship in 2020 with Gyroscope therapeutics as a process development apprentice where I worked in a small team developing a process for the production and purification of recombinant adeno-associated viruses (rAAV) to treat dry AMD. I started my apprenticeship after leaving university as I felt it wasn’t the correct career path for the way I like to learn.

What inspired you to continue down the route of an apprenticeship programme?

I learnt so much during my first apprenticeship that I wanted to continue my development while also continuing my degree. I have finished the foundation part of my degree and I wanted to finish what I started and get the full BSc for applied bioscience.

What skills have you found to be beneficial during your first apprenticeship with company X that you will be bringing to your second apprenticeship?

In my first apprenticeship with Gyroscope therapeutics, I learned invaluable lab skills ranging from molecular biology techniques to the upstream production and downstream purification of proteins. At Gyroscope I was able to learn from industry experts about the pharmaceutical industry and learn different techniques and skills while also using advanced equipment and machines that may not have been available to me at a university. Alongside this I was able to develop my theoretical knowledge with Kent, completing a range of modules and learning how to write scientific reports.

In what ways do you believe the skills, experience, and training acquired through the apprenticeship programme will help you with your career goals?

The skills, experience and training I have already received has given me the confidence and belief I can make an impact and contribute to the development of science. This has been backed up by when my site got shut down and therefore my contract was not extended, I was able to find another job at a great company. The skills I have learnt and experience with working in the pharmaceutical industry is something I could not have got if I was just at university and has given me a head start due to already having experience with Laboratory work.

What are you most looking forward to in your second apprenticeship programme?

I am looking forward to meeting new people and again learning more skills and techniques to further my development. I am also looking forward to contributing towards an exciting company working on manufacturing and selling synthetic DNA and mRNA templates for drug development. I am looking forward to finishing my university degree and using all the skills I will have learnt over my 5 years as an apprentice.

What advice would you give to individuals wanting to join an apprenticeship programme, and what advice would you give to companies wanting to take on an apprentice?

Join an apprenticeship programme! An apprenticeship is an excellent way to develop theoretical knowledge with the university while gaining experience and skills by working for a company that supports your development. I hope more companies start to look at apprenticeships as they are beneficial to both the apprentice and the employer. The employer can train and develop an apprentice in specific skills tailored to the company needs.



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