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Rachael Wonnacott

University of York

MPhys Physics with Astrophysics
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The Big Picture

Rachael undertook an internship at the neutron-beam facility Institut Laue–Langevin in the summer of 2014. She created computer code to improve simulations of molecular dynamics.

“Don’t be scared off by a placement that’s in a topic that you’re not necessarily familiar with or that isn’t exactly what you want to do…”

The First Step

Prior to her placement in France, Rachael worked at a a large super computing department in Germany which has won a number of noble prizes. 

The successful experience in Germany increased Rachael’s skills and with this experience she took the required prerequisites for the placement in France and made her application to Laue-Langevin. Laue-Langevin has one of the strongest neutron facilities in the world, with 56 different beamlines that run different experiments. They have different industrial applications such as testing aeroplane wings for density strength and biomedical physics. She was interning with a Professor at Laue-Langevin, writing programs that would contribute towards his research. 

“If at first you think I’m not qualified, be willing to take something that’s not exactly what you want to do but might give you an appropriate skill set”

Rachael’s Impact

She emphasises that transferable skills are important when applying to internships or graduate placements. Rachael wasn’t really interested in the physics specialisation of the placement, but the supercomputing aspect appealed to her, which were compentencies that she could include on her CV – this led to her developing programming skills in Python, MATLAB and SQL. 

The Final Word

Rachael explained that you don’t have to base your entire work experience on what you want to do in the future. When speaking to employers it’s more about presenting yourself with confidence and telling them why you’re a good candidate highlighting the transferable skills you gain through your experiences and projects.

“In interviews its that confidence which gets you the job in the end”

In Rachael’s Own Words…

… And the Next Step

Rachael completed her MPhys degree in June 2016. She now works as a software developer at investment-management company Fidelity International.

“The super-computing aspect has meant I can say I’m actually quite good with computers… I’ve built a repertoire of skills mostly around computation…”