• Name: Thomas Kennelly
  • Job Title: Trainee Patent Attorney
  • Location: York
  • University: Sheffield
  • Degree: Mhys & PhD in Physics & Biophysics
  • Career Sectors: Patents
  • Areas Of Specialism: Technology

Why did you choose a job in this sector?

During the final year of my PhD I began to seriously look at what I wanted to do as a career. Whilst I knew that I didn’t want to continue in academia, I did want a career where the skills that I had developed throughout my Masters and PhD weren’t wasted.

As I carried out more research, attended careers fairs and talked to people already working in IP, I knew it was the industry in which I wanted to work. One thing that really stood out to me was the more business-oriented environment. It’s different from academia, but it really suits me.

How did you get your job at Secerna?

Funnily enough, through IP Careers. Once I knew that I wanted to work in IP, the hunt for a trainee position began. I looked for firms that had a good reputation in the industry, spotted the position at Secerna on the IP Careers website and submitted my application. That was followed by two interviews with the partners before being offered the position.

What was the application process like – any advice?

It was a case of submitting my CV and cover letter to the partners and then attending interviews where I met the partners, answered their questions and got to know the company a little better.

As far as advice, I would say that it is essential to gain as much knowledge in your chosen field as possible. Pursuing a Masters and a PhD will certainly help you gain experience, as will taking another job in a similar field following the completion of your studies. Personally, I worked at the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), where I learnt a lot about working away from a strictly academic environment.

Also, have your CV scrutinised by someone else. It’s amazing what another pair of eyes will pick up and it can be invaluable to spot areas that can be improved upon. When you get to the interview stage, you need to be honest when answering questions. Don’t give the answer that you think a potential employer wants to hear, give an answer that you believe in.

What are your main duties/roles?

I work with an array of different companies and inventors. A lot of my time is spent getting to know how their inventions work and drafting specifications alongside claims relating to these new ideas and inventions. I also review documents for the fully qualified attorneys including so-called prior art documents cited against our clients’ patent applications by a respective patent office, and prepare arguments for the grant of a patent to be submitted to the patent office in question.

What would you like to achieve in the future?

Currently, aside from my work commitments, I’m focused on passing my exams and becoming fully qualified. After that, progressing through the ranks and hopefully becoming a well-respected attorney are my aims.

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