Karen Wilton


Karen hasn’t decided on a PhD or a full-time job yet, but her time at the University of Leeds has taught her to be adaptable. On her course she became efficient at managing time between work and fun, while improving her teamwork and communication skills on caving trips and presenting on the University’s TV station LS:TV.

What do you hope to go on and do when you graduate from the University of Leeds?

I have tried to keep my options open so at the moment am applying for postgraduate courses and jobs. I think I would like to do a PhD as I really enjoyed my final year research project, and there a few areas I have become interested in that I would like to keep studying. I did a year working for a pharmaceutical company and enjoyed that too but I think doing a PhD will give me more career opportunities in areas that interest me.

What skills and qualities do you think you’ve gained from your course?

I have become very efficient at managing my time and perfecting the work/play balance! I have acquired numerous lab skills through taught lab sessions at uni, as well as my placement and third year placement.

What skills and qualities do you think you’ve gained from co-curricular activities?

I have improved my communication and organisational skills. I have helped to organise trips for the caving society, as well as sorting out a venue, band and menus for our annual dinner. Caving also requires a lot of teamwork so I feel I have improved in this area too. I joined the University’s TV station LS:TV and presented one of the shows, which helped to improve my confidence as well as learning a bit about how shows are made and edited.

How will these skills and qualities help you achieve what you want to do when you graduate?

Having worked for a pharmaceutical company for a year I feel I already have the skills for the workplace. I have learnt numerous lab techniques that companies may require. I also feel I have acquired excellent study and time management skills so could easily take on postgraduate study, which is my preferred option at the moment.

What has been your proudest moment while studying at Leeds?

Securing an industrial placement at MedImmune UK. I was very keen to do a year in industry as I was unsure what career path to take and thought this would be a great way to get a taste of the working world. It was very interesting to see how a pharmaceutical company works and what careers are available. It was also great work experience that I am sure will benefit me in the future when I am applying for jobs.

I also came runner up in the Centre for Biosciences student award, for which I made a short video ‘given your degree, what are you looking forward to in the future?’ I won £50 and my video is now shown on the Centre for Bioscience website. Not only was it fun to make, it gave me a chance to reflect on my time at university and how it had prepared me for the future, and how I wasn’t even sure what that future held!

I also won the ‘most promising new caver’ award after my first year of caving. This was probably due to me going on caving trips every weekend despite having sustained a nasty hand injury on the first ever trip!

How do you think you have benefited from studying at Leeds?

Leeds University has given me excellent learning facilities and the opportunity to tailor my degree, with a choice of modules to study and the option of undertaking a year in industry. Leeds is also a great city to study in, with lots to do and see. The Yorkshire dales are not too far away either and have some great caves to explore!

What advice would you have for students just starting out at Leeds?

Be passionate about your degree, explore Leeds as much as possible and take up at least one crazy hobby