Name: Dr Maria Alfaradhi
Current position: Senior Medical Writer
Connection to the Academy: Policy intern
What's happened since you left?
Since completing the internship I went back to finish off my PhD, submitted my thesis, survived my viva (wahay!) and took up a career in medical communications! I’m currently a Senior Medical Writer.
What made you apply to the scheme?
I was about mid-way through my PhD and I guess starting to think about post-PhD life, as you do...the advert for this was sent to our student list and I thought it would be a great opportunity to explore different careers around science. The application process involved writing a short piece on a science policy issue, so I had to do some research and be prepared to discuss it at my interview. I can’t remember my interview much, but it can’t have been too bad as I was offered a position!
What did you work on at the Academy?
I managed to get involved in a whole lot of different projects during my time at the Academy. One of my highlights was preparing the Academy’s response to House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee inquiry into women in academic STEM careers. It involved a lot of research and writing, but a good sense of achievement having something submitted to Parliament! I also spent a week at the Wellcome Trust and a couple of days at the Association of Medical Research Charities, which were valuable experiences.
How did you find the experience?
The experience was great. It was good to get some insight into ‘hands-off’ science careers, even though the change of scene took a bit of getting used to. Everyone at the Academy was really friendly and made my time there enjoyable.
Did the internship give you any skills or knowledge that you used after you’d left?
I’ve gone on to write daily for a living, so the research and writing skills exercised at the Academy were really handy. It also gave me confidence in being able to work across a lot of unfamiliar topics and getting up to speed quickly – something that I have to do a lot in my current role.
Do you have any advice for someone who’s thinking of applying/doing the internship, or something similar?
I’d say to go for it – if it’s an opportunity to be in a new environment and learn something new, it’s great. You’ll find out whether something is or isn’t for you. Be confident in getting stuck in, asking questions and asking for something to do, no matter how small.
Do you have any other career development tips for someone interested in becoming a science writer?
Get into something you’re passionate about, because there are times that you’ll be slogging away and if you don’t enjoy it, you won’t see the fun side. And again, don’t be afraid to pitch in and get involved in all kinds of projects, it’ll give you a better idea of the type of work you enjoy.