The experience I have gained from my placement year has been incredible. You are able to experience a much larger range of techniques you would ever be able to see at University. It helps to build on the theoretical knowledge you learnt at University and translates it into the workplace.
For such a big company, I was overwhelmed by the kindness and willingness to help of the other staff members. As the placement progresses I noticed the increasing level of trust in the work that I was given to complete, which in turn helped to build my confidence and relationships between me and members of my team.
My manager ensured we had weekly meetings to review my past weeks work and the work that is upcoming. He was always making sure I had work to keep me busy, and was keen to help find opportunities for me to learn other things within my department as well as being very supportive of extra-curricular activities alongside my work.
The work balance varied quite a lot throughout the year. There were times when you are very busy, but this allows you to demonstrate to your manager that you have the dedication to the work to get it done. There are other days when it is quiet, but then this allows you to catch up and get your work up to date.
As a student I was unsure on the level of work that I would be able to carry out, but I was very pleasantly surprised the further I got with my placement. The level of responsibility certainly increases throughout the placement, as you are given more important work to carry out that have an impact on important documents.
I have developed from knowing only theoretical facts about analytical techniques to being very confident with operating and determine problems with the instrument. Being more hands on has taking what I have learnt from being surface-level knowledge to something that I know completely understand and can explain to other in future.
The office is very relaxed. If you are ever unsure, there are always plenty of people around that are willing to help out, and you are able to walk up and talk to anybody. Despite this, it still provides you with a place to focus and get your work done while still being able to have a chat every now and again.
There was very good organisation at the beginning of the placement, with my supervisor having a list of what we needed to do to get set-up for the year. There were a few bumps along the way, but these were handled as well as possible, with my manager always looking to give me the best experiences of the company in this placement year.
We were able to sign up for several activities alongside the placement, and were able to take days out of the office to accommodate these. We were encouraged to attend workshops and seminars aimed at professional and personal development. My manager was very supportive in allowing me to attend any opportunities I could.
After a years experience of the company, I am very intrigued to hopefully return to future employment with the company. There are several graduate schemes available as well as direct entry roles, so there are plenty of opportunities to return if you made the right impression. They also hire several contract workers, which is another way to return to the company in future.
A group of placement students from the site I worked at were very close, and always have social events going on. From days out and escape rooms to the weekly pub quiz, there were always people around to meet up with. The people at GSK are very friendly, and colleagues will quickly become friends that broaden your network and give you more activities to take part in outside of work.
In comparison to Guildford in Surrey, I found Hertford and Ware relatively cheap places to live and socialise in. This all depends on what you're used to and where you live or go to university as other students from universities further north did not always agree with me on this.
Ware and Hertford have a good range of things to do, from local pubs and bars to restaurants. We are also very close to London, making it easy to go to a wider range of places. If you have the time to go out and explore, these quiet places have a lot more to offer than they appear.
There are plenty of opportunities to get involved in, its up to the individual to make the most of the year. There are several activities organised by GSK that you would not normally be able to do, such as volunteering at the national Big Bang Fair in Birmingham and Over The Wall.
Placement Year (10 Months+)
East of England
18th June 2019