To carry out analytical testing on products manufactured on site before they can be released to market.
I thoroughly enjoyed my placement year as an analytical chemist for GSK Barnard Castle, from the minute I started I was treat like a member of the team and not a student. I have been given various tasks to do over the year that has not only challenged my personal skills but also my chemistry knowledge.
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I felt like I was valued like every other member of staff in the department, once I was trained and testing I was often mistaken for another analyst instead of a student. I was asked to take part in tasks like everyone else and I was never denied a task just because I was a placement student.
My manager has supported me 100% throughout this year. I had to complete my masters degree whilst on placement and I often had to travel back to university for short courses and complete assignments at work. He had my best interests at the forefront of scheduling the daily tasks in the department.
Around 95% of my placement year I have been busy mainly all day every day, especially when completing my method development and validation project which was managed by myself. On the days where I was routine testing for batch release products, I was scheduled a whole days work every day.
I was given quite a high level of responsibility whilst on placement. I was given a method development and validation project to manage for my masters which I completed. I was trained on the batch release testing which I carried out like every other analyst. I also trained a new member of staff on some of the testing and carried out the department induction of the new industrial placement student.
The personal and technical skills I have gained whilst at GSK are skills I will carry through life. I have recently been accepted onto an R&D future leadership programme with GSK and the technical skills I have gained such as method development using high performance liquid chromatography is an instrument I will be working on. The personal skills I have gained such as presenting and over all confidence are transferable skills I will use on a daily basis in my future career.
The general atmosphere in the laboratory was always positive. Regardless of the department you were in there was always someone willing to help or happy to answer any questions. Everybody was friendly and happy to help. There were always lunches at the pub or nights out with colleagues, good times!
The initial training of my placement was very well organised and the organisation of my university requirements was also. A requirement of my masters year was a dissertation which consisted of a project I had to undertake at work, this was slightly less organised and was quite last minute in regards to university deadlines. Regardless of this, overall I would say it was an organised year.
GSK definitely invested training and personal development into every one of its staff regardless of if you was an industrial placement student or not. My manager was most encouraging when it came to me being involved in activities and events even if they had no impact on the lab or the work I was doing.
GSK in particular have a very well known and competitive graduate programme known as the FLP (future leadership programme), this is available in most areas of the business. This programme is designed for making you a future leader of the business and it is a programme I applied for and was successful in. GSK also have a few direct entry graduate schemes such as the Barnard Castle direct entry graduate programme.
The industrial placement students at my site in particular was quite a small group but we always made sure to arrange nights out/activities for us all to get involved in. We made sure we had meals out for birthdays etc. In regards to GSK IP's, the social events was always around London and logistically these was hard to attend from Barnard Castle and there was no scope to having one up here instead.
The cost of living up north is always cheaper than the GSK sites down south, that is a bonus! I found it relatively cheap as I lived with another IP, so we had the same budget etc. Socialising again was the same, nights out and evening meals was relatively cheap and a train into Newcastle for a more livelier scene was cheap also.
Darlington's night life was good, there where cocktail/gin bars and a few late opening bars that would stay open till the early hours. Barnard Castle had a range of pubs selling local ales etc but they also had a wine bar that would stay open till 4am...surprisingly! Other than that, Durham and Newcastle was a short train ride away for a more livelier night out.
The site had its own sports and social club with a discounted gym membership and squash courts etc. How little or how many activities you chose to get involved in was completely up to you, there was always someone willing to go out to the cinema or out for tea and there was a range of gyms and leisure centres to attend in Darlington.