Change 100 gave me the chance to improved my skills


Catherine was one of our Change 100 interns in 2022. She tells us about her experience interning at the data-driven diagnostics company, Cyted.

Catherine sitting at a table with bags in front of her

I’m Catherine and I took part in the Change 100 programme in summer 2022. My placement was at Cyted, a data-driven diagnostics company with a mission to build a world where cancer is diagnosed earlier and faster.

Our values, aligned

If I'm honest, I wasn't sure what to expect from Change 100. Because it is such a wide-ranging programme, I was worried I may be matched to a company whose principles did not align with my own, or to a role that did not suit my skillset.

But after I accepted a place on the programme, I had a lot of opportunities to explain the kind of role I was looking for. Be that location, working environment, area of industry, and the kind of skills that I hoped to develop. 

Above all, I wanted to improve on my coding skills, but I had very limited experience. I also wanted to work for a company with a positive social impact. I couldn't have imagined that I would end up working as part of a software engineering team in a company that develops technologies for diagnosing cancer earlier and faster. 

I live in a very rural area, so I was also very lucky to have found a position within commutable distance and a hybrid approach with two days a week working remotely. The internship could not have been a better fit, and I was thrilled to be offered a permanent job with Cyted after I graduate later this year.

My role

I worked at Cyted for 7 weeks as a Frontend Engineer Intern. My role was to develop and test the user interface for Cyted’s online services and web applications. For the first few days of the internship, I was given simple tasks, such as fixing errors in the user interface and implementing basic features, and as I became more confident, I was given more challenging tasks. 

My line manager was keen for me to learn in-demand skills and technologies to enhance my employability, and he and the rest of the Software Development team were very generous with their time in supporting me to do this.

During my internship, I worked on really exciting projects, such as developing the frontend for CYTOPRIME, a project to bring the Cytosponge, a new diagnostic test to identify Barrett’s oesophagus and other oesophageal conditions, into community care across the North West of England. It was thrilling to work towards a deadline with the rest of the team in such a fast-paced environment, especially for a project with such a positive impact for patients and the NHS as a whole.

There was an expectation that I would learn on the job, and because of the supportive environment where I was trusted to take on responsibility and work independently, I learned very quickly and picked up a lot of new skills.

Flexibility to suit my disability

Before the start of my internship, I expected to be completely out of my depth, but I was very relieved that this was not the case. There was an expectation that I would learn on the job, and because of the supportive environment where I was trusted to take on responsibility and work independently, I learned very quickly and picked up a lot of new skills.

I wasn't sure what to expect from my first job working for a for-profit company, having only worked for charities and NGOs previously. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the job came with some pretty great perks, including free snacks and good coffee! This made the morning commute much more agreeable. It surprised me how tiring I found travelling to the office. 

Luckily, the team I worked with operate on a hybrid basis, facilitated by online meetings and a very active team group chat on Slack. As a result of my disability and medication, my energy levels can fluctuate, so the hybrid model allowed me to organise my in-office hours around my disability.

The team had a very positive approach to employee wellbeing and maintaining a good work-life balance. Every morning, the Tech Team would do a colour-coded ‘temperature check’ on the group chat (green for a good day, red for a bad day) to let others know how they were feeling that day and any work-related or personal problems that they were encountering and wanted others to be aware of. There was a strong office culture of positive feedback and celebrating the achievements of others. These features all contributed towards building a friendly, open, and supportive working environment.

My advice to applicants

To any applicants who might have similar reservations to me, I strongly encourage you to apply. You never know what it might offer. 

To candidates offered a place on the scheme, my advice is to think carefully about the kind of company and role you would like to be matched with. 

Be ambitious and make your preferences clear, giving you the best chance of success.