Success Stories

Jess Taylor makes waves in aquaculture internship

For Jess, experience in a smaller company over summer was exactly what she wanted. The current University of Stirling student tells us more...

Published: 17/11/2016

Month One

The internship at SAIC, through the ScotGrad Life Sciences Internship Programme, ticked all the boxes for what I was looking for out of a summer placement.

I wanted to get experience in a smaller company in some area of the scientific community, but I was completely against working in a lab – a hard thing to balance! Past that, I wanted to work in a company where both they and I would get something out of it too.

I’d never really thought of aquaculture as a big industry, however one month in to my internship at SAIC I now know far more than I ever thought I would about the sector. It’s been a window into the industry which has been great, while the Innovation Centres were also something that I wasn’t aware of, and they’re a fantastic initiative. Bringing industry and academia together can seem alien, but SAIC have shown that it is possible and both sides will engage to their benefit.

From the marketing and communications side, it was interesting to see how that translates into the general aquaculture sector. I also had the opportunity to visit FloWave, a circular ocean simulator that allows scale models to be tested before technologies or full scale devices are then put out to sea. I loved seeing the ‘tricks’ that they can do (even if they only have them for show and not during normal operations) while also learning about the design of the facility and how it manages to replicate the conditions in open water.

One thing I wasn’t expecting to see so early on was a Board meeting – it was definitely a hectic couple of days in the office getting ready for it, but I am glad it did happen so early.

ScotGrad supports Jess to undertake placement at SAIC 

Jess receives her certificate at the celebration event from Skills Development Scotland

Month Two

It was a busy start to the month with an all-Innovation Centres Marketing & Communications meeting in Glasgow, a trip to Inverness in advance of our consortium event at the end of August, and a fantastic trip to the SSMG factory in Bellshill – and that was just in the first two weeks!

The all-IC meeting was a great opportunity to meet the other Marketing & Communication Managers from the other Innovation Centres. Given how near in age all the Innovation Centres are, I found it interesting how different our approaches to things could be, but then how well the Centres could work together.

Visiting SSMG was a highlight for me. I’ve never seen a processing factory like that before, and it was interesting to see the entire process from intake to export through the factory.

We were also taken on a tour of the Institute of Aquaculture here at Stirling. Huge thanks to Sam for taking us round and showing us all the machines. I was amazed at how large and busy the Institute was, so carefully tucked away on the Stirling campus! I also had my blood tested to see how high my Omega 3 levels were while there – ‘more fish needed’ was the consensus!

The visit to Inverness showed me just how much was needed when visiting a venue for an event. Organisation for the consortium event and the annual review is well underway and I’m now excited to see the final product.

My big win for the month was organising the press clippings album. Our coverage from inception up until now is all collated into one area as well as printed off and labelled in our new press clippings album. It feels like a big achievement, and it’s also great to look back through and see which stories get the best coverage.


Month Three

My final month started with lots of social media. With SAIC on so many platforms (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram), making sure they’re all kept up-to-date and also cross-promote the other platforms is a constant duty. It helps when we have pictures or videos from events, as they’re great to share.

Looking forward for SAIC, I started to plan out a social media strategy for the SAIC Scholars initiative 2017/18 (there’s no such thing as being too prepared). As someone looking to apply for a Masters myself, it was useful to be able to start planning the strategy out and note when the major milestones for the application year occur. With four universities and seven different MSc programmes to keep in order, having a definitive plan before the crunch time comes will be key, and hopefully it will pay off and get even more students looking to apply for aquaculture Masters involved and engaged with the industry.

Having the consortium event at the end of the month (and the end of my internship with SAIC) helped provide an obvious goal to work towards, which really focused my efforts. During the event, it was interesting listening to the Q&A panels of project partners then Board members, and also the speech by Fergus Ewing MSP about the aquaculture industry. What struck me throughout the event was how large but close the industry is; many people knew each other in the room, yet there was always at least one new person for them to meet. That’s also very in keeping with what SAIC tries to do, to make partnerships with different people to further industry research.

The final week of my internship was the favourite part of my month; seeing the final products after a huge amount of work! Both the consortium event on its own and the annual review produced for it were amazing, and I’m pleased I managed to have a role in both of them.

My time with SAIC has been a fantastic learning experience. From having an extremely limited knowledge of the aquaculture industry (which I think could be summed up as ‘you need to eat fish’) I have learnt far more than I thought I would.

The entire internship has definitely helped me decide that science communication is an avenue I would like to go down, so thank you everyone at Team SAIC for the opportunity!


Well done Jess. Wishing you the best of luck for the future!

Start your own ScotGrad journey by applying for a placement today.