Tamsin Gatzanis reflects on her Year in Industry at Pfizer

Tamsin Gatzanis

Tamsin Gatzanis, BA (Hons) Digital Arts with a Year in Industry student worked as User Experience and Design Undergraduate at Pfizer. Following her successful placement year, Tamsin was offered a part-time role at the company while she continues her final year studies.

Read on to find out more about the support she received to find a placement, her responsibilities at Pfizer, and her advice for student considering taking a placement year.

Why did you choose to study at Kent?

I chose to study at Kent because when I completed my A-Levels, I knew I wanted to further my education in the creative field however I wasn’t sure at the time in which area specifically. The Digital Arts course at Kent was the most appealing to me due to the broad range of skills taught including 3D modelling, programming, video game development and graphic design to name but a few. Having a combination of these skills instead of specialising in just one has opened many doors for me, particularly the opportunity to gain work experience during my second year of study as well as my placement year as employees have always commented on how highly they value this all-round knowledge.

Could you tell us about the support available when looking for a placement?

There is plenty of support when it comes to looking for a placement during second year. There are regular sessions set up in your timetable where the Employability Team provide advice based on the experiences of previous students alongside tutorials such as how to best set up your CV for success. Additionally, all placement students are sent an innumerable amount of placement opportunities via email on a regular basis to ensure you don’t miss out on anything! There is also the possibility to attend Placement and Employability appointments to talk about Placement Year opportunities or anything else to do with job hunting and academic applications (CVs, cover  letters, personal statements, interviews, assessment centres).

Where did you spend your placement year, and what was your role?

I spent my placement year at Pfizer as a User Experience (UX) designer. My role consisted of defining a problem through the accumulation and analysis of user research in order to create solutions by wireframing, prototyping and reiterating based on constant review, rigorous testing and user feedback.

What were your main responsibilities and tasks?

I was responsible for creative product design concepts and assets as well as bringing the product vision to life from initial concepts by tackling challenging problems, simplifying complex tasks and transforming them into intuitive and easy to use design solutions; right through to iterating on polished interfaces at all stages of the design process. I collaborated with a team of CX/UX/UI designers, design analysts, visual designers, researchers and developers throughout the design process – from creating user flows and wireframes, storyboards, building user interface mock-ups and prototypes to video asset production and 3D interactive environments. I conducted research studies to ensure that the final product seamlessly aligns to user needs and goals, identifying the gaps that need to be filled via research activities to establish a holistic fit between digital and non-digital touchpoints across the end-to-end user journey.

What was the highlight of your placement?

Working at Pfizer for the past year has been an incredible experience. The highlight of my placement was having the opportunity to work alongside professionals with a wide range of expertise all of whom are passionate about what they do and how they are changing the lives of patients and healthcare professionals across the globe every day. Having their support and mentorship throughout the year has allowed me to grow a wealth of new skills, both personal and professional, and helped me decide the direction of my career after university.

What are your plans for the future?

As a result of such a successful placement, my contract at Pfizer has been extended, and I will be working part-time whilst completing my final year of study at Kent. I look forward to what the future holds as I continue to be immersed in the development of products and services that change the lives of patients and healthcare professionals for the better.

What advice would you give to students considering taking a placement year?

If you are still on the fence about whether to take a placement year or not, the pros outweigh the cons by a mile. Doing a placement year means you’re able to ‘test-drive’ a career and make a more informed decision about what you want to do after you graduate. You will also have the opportunity to apply what you have learnt in lectures and workshops from first and second year into practice with real projects that have an impact. After your placement, you will come back to university for your final year of study with newfound inspiration for final year projects and dissertations. Additionally, by completing a placement year you will be able to establish industry network connections and stand out when it comes to applying for a job when you graduate!