Aiding research and development into more effective cancer treatments is a very rewarding career choice for Lara
Lara is a level 6 laboratory scientist, ATAC were able to connect her to Autolus—a company that develops therapies that have the potential to deliver life-changing benefits to cancer patients.
Why did you choose to pursue an advanced therapies apprenticeship?
I work in a sector which specialises in cancer advanced therapies, so to know that what I am doing is aiding research and development into more effective treatments, and potentially finding a cure, is incredible. Giving patients time with family and friends that they wouldn’t have had if this treatment wasn’t available, is a rewarding feeling.
How has ATAC supported your development?
There are regular visits to companies involved with ATAC, where apprentices can look around facilities and learn about what they do. This helped to further my understanding of the advanced therapies sector, as many companies treat other diseases other than cancer. The trips keep university modules in mind, meaning the activities were beneficial and can be applied to our studies. ATAC also helps apprentices prepare for their end point assessments and will assist in preparation where they can.
Why did you choose to do an apprenticeship at Autolus?
When I first started at Autolus, the company was only three years old, with two sites in the UK and about 75 employees. Now the company has just turned eight, we have four sites across the UK and the USA. I have been able to be a part of a business that is expanding quickly and successfully within the industry. I have learnt so much due to this, as well as having contributed towards their development.
How would you describe the culture at Autolus?
The workforce is very diverse, with individuals coming from many backgrounds. Everyone is friendly, works well together and is willing to help one another in developing their skills and exchanging knowledge.
What has been the most rewarding or interesting project you have been involved in and why?
I have been tasked with leading several projects so far within my 4 years at Autolus, including an environmental monitoring project where the process was updated to be more effective. A mycoplasma assay project was developed to bring the assay in-house rather than outsourced. This would reduce business costs as well as manufacturing time, allowing patients to get their treatment sooner. I have also recently been tasked with carrying out a Quality Control antibody cocktail stability project, where these cocktails are used within a range of QC assays. The idea is that a cocktail will be created in bulk and used when required instead of being created by the operator at the time of the assay. This will help to reduce human error and reduce assay times.
What would you say to someone thinking of pursuing an apprenticeship in advanced therapies?
Ensure it is something you enjoy and are willing to be challenged by. Do your research into your sector of choice. It may take a little longer than university, but all fees are paid for and you gain years of work experience where you will learn skills and additional knowledge, as well as being paid for the time you work. You will be given genuine responsibilities—you won’t be doing the odd jobs no one wants to do. Contrary to popular belief, there is a good work/study/personal life balance. Your study time will be taken out of work hours, for example, in a 5-day working week; 4 days will be work, 1 day study. You will also have the weekends and annual leave to do as you please. For me, you will likely find me racing in my kart or a car with my race team! Over 90% of all students that go through apprenticeships are guaranteed a job at the end, making this a great option to kick start their career.