What’s it like to work for one of the world’s biggest pharma companies?

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My communications placement at GSK means I am routinely in conversation with both internal employees and external partners. This is not only vital for raising awareness of GSK’s work, but has also allowed me to become more familiar with the pharmaceutical industry, before having to decide what kind of graduate role to apply for.

Specifically within communications and government affairs, my placement is within UK & Ireland charitable partnerships. I work to increase employee engagement with our charitable partners – through fundraising, events and written communication – while also creating and maintaining GSK’s relationships with outstanding charities, whose work revolves around a range of different healthcare issues – from mental illness to homelessness.


In charitable partnerships, it’s hard to describe a typical day. Daily tasks vary depending on the different programmes being working on, whether it’s assessing charities as part of our two annual award programmes run by the department, liaising with charitable partners, or running GSK’s charitable partnership websites.

The immediate team is also very understanding about individual interests, meaning I’ve been able to work across different functions and get involved in projects that did not lie in my team.

New projects

For example, my recent involvement in the science education team – inspiring today’s students to become tomorrow’s scientists – is something I’ve been included in because my managers recognised my interest in science, and put me forward. So whatever your interests are, this team is brilliant at helping you become involved in relevant projects.

What’s a typical day like?

9am-10am: When I first get to work, I check my emails to ensure nothing urgent has come in overnight, and also respond to any active email chains. During this time, I often prioritise my workload for the day – involvement in project work means there are certain very busy times of the year, and other calmer months.

10am-11am: I might meet with an employee who’s interested in finding out how to become involved with GSK’s charitable work, either through fundraising or volunteering. My role is to outline all of the possibilities, give advice on how the employee can get started, and understand all of the different procedures in place (e.g. the finance around fundraising for our global charitable partner).

11am-12pm: One of the projects may be creating the UK & Ireland charitable partnerships highlights newsletter, which informs key stakeholders about our department’s recent achievements. If written communication is one of your key interests, this is a great opportunity to create some really engaging content.

1pm-2pm: Finish off some work for the newsletter.

2pm-3pm: Have a one-to-one with my manager. The communications department is great at giving contact time between industrial placement students and their managers.

3pm-4pm: Work on one of our flagship charitable awards programmes. From working with an events team towards the launching of a programme, to creating the winning charity’s written promotional materials, I’ve been involved in every step.

4pm-5pm: Some ad-hoc work on other minor projects running alongside the projects that I’ve prioritised. These may include cross-function work with other teams, broadening my experience at GSK.

Thanks to Hilary Robinson, Charitable Partnerships placement student at GSK.

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