We caught up with Penny Sherlock, an Associate Consultant in our R&D tax incentives team. Penny joined us in 2019 as a Summer Intern, find out how she used this experience to kick-start her career…
What did you study at university and what inspired your choice of course?
I studied Biochemistry at university. I chose it because I really enjoyed the molecular biology and biological chemistry aspects of my A-levels and had always been interested in the life sciences. Before university, I had studied a mix of science and humanities. I even seriously considered pursuing English literature, but science eventually won. Luckily, it turns out writing is still a big part of studying and working in Science.
What was your plan for after you graduated?
My plan for after graduation was quite open-ended. I knew I wanted to go travelling and take some time off, but I didn’t have a set plan for what I wanted to do after that. I wanted to stay in the realm of science and use the knowledge and skills I had gained during my degree, but also knew that laboratory research wasn’t for me. As a result, I was hoping to work at the intersection of science and business where I’d be working closely with other people.
What sparked your interest in an internship?
Internships are a great way to gain experience whilst working towards a degree. They also give insight into what it’s like to work within a given industry, which is especially useful when you are not entirely sure of what you want to. These were the main things that drew me to doing an internship, particularly given the age-old paradox of seeming to need experience to get experience. Internships are generally designed for those that are at the start of their career and may not have previous work experience. Of course, there was also the chance that I would end up enjoying the work and being offered a full-time position!
You really are given responsibility and get the chance to learn the process of taking pieces of work through to completion.
Ayming appealed to me as it offered the chance to use my technical and scientific knowledge within the realm of business, as well as to work closely with a team of consultants and be client-facing. Before finding Ayming I didn’t know much about R&D tax relief, but the testimonials from previous interns gave a great insight into what the day to day life was like; working within a great team on a variety of projects across different sectors.
What was it like working as an intern within the team at Ayming?
Being an intern at Ayming doesn’t feel like you’re an intern in that you very quickly get to know and become part of the team. Over the 8 weeks of my internship, I learned a huge amount about the world of R&D tax relief, the various weird and wonderful R&D projects, and about working as a consultant. I felt I was able to make real contributions to projects and saw work that I had completed during my internship in the final deliverables of a number of engagements. You really are given responsibility and get the chance to learn the process of taking pieces of work through to completion.
How has your internship helped with your career?
Following the internship, I was offered a full-time position which is obviously a huge help in establishing a career. Moreover, I developed my abilities in technical communication, teamwork, and adaptability through the range of different tasks and projects on which I was working. I also acquired hard skills such as using Excel, which has been extremely useful in my role as Associate Consultant at Ayming, and even helped when completing my master’s degree after the internship! These skills are thoroughly transferable to any field of work, and the understanding of the R&D tax scheme gives a great springboard for working in R&D incentive consulting.
What advice do you have for someone thinking of doing an internship with Ayming?
In the application process, learn about Ayming and what sets it apart from other consultancies. This will mean you develop and can demonstrate a real interest in the company which definitely comes across during the application. Whilst no one is expecting you to have exhaustive knowledge of what the R&D tax scheme is, do some research so you have an understanding of the scheme and the work involved in it. Finally, if you are on the internship, think about what you want to get out of it and ask! Everyone is very happy to help. I requested extra Excel training and it was incredibly helpful. You’ll also get to work with a great group of people, so my last piece of advice is… enjoy it!