Student Placement Showcase – Illumina, Inc, – Vlad Ursan

Over the next few weeks, we will be talking to some of our students who have recently completed placements with various companies throughout the UK and abroad, to get their thoughts and experiences on what to expect whilst out on placement.

This week we speak to Vlad Ursan who is currently in his 3rd year of study of Computer Science.

Name of Company: Illumina, Inc.
Duration of experience: 13 weeks + 12 months

Q:  What was your key role and responsibilities?
A:  I was a Bioinformatics Scientist working in the software development team that was building tools for automating the process of analysis of DNA sequencing data.

Q: What did an average days work consist of?
A: An average day of work would start at 9 am, with a cup of coffee and picking up the work that you left off the day before. Since I was working in software development, my projects would run for weeks. From 9 to 12 we would work on our projects. At 12 we would have an hour lunch break and then continue work from 1 to 5. Being an intern, and quite new to the technologies that I had to use I would have a lot of questions, which my supervisor was more than happy to answer at any moment. And when he was busy with a meeting or helping someone else at their desk, anyone else in the team was there to help me.

Q:What was the key highlights of your placement?
A: I would say that the key highlights were the couple of times when I had finished my projects and saw that the tools I built were actually being used by the other scientists in the company and that they made their work a bit easier.

In the remainder of the year I will be working on the 100.000 Genome project, still developing tools that that help improve the workflow. At the moment I am working on a metrics visualization tool that tracks the sequencing workflows, what I will be working on next I don’t know as that will be after Christmas.

A few personal goals that I have for this year are: find a project to own and develop by myself and see the final result being used by the other scientists, improve my programming skills as much as possible, and improve my presentation and public speaking skills.

Q:What are your personal thoughts on the placement?
A: My thoughts are that placement is probably the best thing that you can do during University, the amount of experience and knowledge you accumulate in just a few months is incredibly vast.

Q: What would be your advice to other students thinking of doing a placement?
A: My advice is, do it, don’t think too much about whether you should do it or not, just do it because it is worth it, you will gain so much that you will want to keep doing it until you finish University.