Industrial placement student working within research and development at GSK.
I thoroughly enjoyed my placement year at GSK in Stevenage. I have gained so much experience, laboratory skills and transferrable skills too such as time management and presentation skills. This year has really allowed me to grow my confidence and has encouraged me to work for GSK again in the future. I have also made so many great friends who I know I will stay in touch with when I leave.
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Being part of teams here at GSK, I feel like I am constantly supported by my fellow colleagues. Everybody here is keen to help and give their advice as well as listen to and value your input and opinions on projects. I feel like I am a key part of the department and that my contributions are valued by everyone here.
My supervisors provided endless support and advice, especially at the start of my placement, and as I became more confident they gave me opportunities to become more independent over the year. I also was given support by my team leaders who also constantly gave me guidance and help over the year.
I was consistently quite busy every day, managing multiple different experiments simultaneously which kept me busy in the lab but also balancing this with office work such as data analysis and experiment planning as well as team and departmental meetings. Towards the end of the year, the project write-up process kept me very busy as well as preparing for lots of presentations of my work to the department. Even in times when I had less work, I was always given the opportunity to shadow other people in the department to gain more experience and keep busy.
As I became more confident and independent in the lab, my supervisors trusted me with planning and carrying out my own experiments for my project. I was given the responsibility to organise and manage my own time with regards to my project, as well as other tasks that I had been set to help the department and my supervisors out.
Doing a lab based placement did not just give me invaluable experience of multiple different laboratory and biochemical techniques, but also has allowed me to grow in my independence and confidence in the lab, planning experiments and data analysis techniques. I have also gained so many transferrable skills which will be vital for further degree studies and future careers. Having consistently presented over the year, I have improved my presentation skills and my confidence speaking in front of and engaging with large groups of people. This year has also taught me about time management, prioritisation, working as a team but also independently.
The office environment was always really friendly, students and full time members of staff sat together so it was a nice integrated environment. We also did lots of team-building lunches and experiences as a department which made the office atmosphere really fun. Within the department I would have been happy talking to or asking anyone for advice.
The work placement was well organised and set up. The only issues were with SRG the official employer of the placement students, because the holiday system was quite difficult and not well explained to students resulting in issues with holiday accrual and differences in holiday between different students. Apart from this the general GSK-based placement was well structured and organised, based around a whole project over the year. There was also a 2 week training period at the start of the placement which was well organised so that everyone was at the same level of knowledge when staring work.
GSK as a company definitely puts a lot of time and effort into ensuring that the placement students are trained well and develop over the year. Being assigned supervisors we are constantly having time invested in us from full time employees and are always included and involved in what was happening in the department. It was an environment where it felt like we were encouraged to learn and engage and improve our skills over the year.
Very appealing future employment prospects. There is a Future Leaders graduate program which GSK placement students are able to apply for earlier and fast-track through the application process, which is a great opportunity. In addition, during the year there were multiple careers talks held to give us insight into lab based and non lab based roles within GSK that we could aspire to do in the future.
Yes, as GSK takes on a large amount of placement student sit was easy to make friends this year. There is a group called IPUNITE which organised multiple social events over the year for the GSK placement students so that we could all socialise together and meet new people. In addition we also had social events with colleagues within our departments such as the Christmas party, multiple lunches out and team-building events such as laser tag!
Stevenage as a place was not too expensive to live in, the main cost of socialising would only have been when we went to London for events as we would need to buy train tickets and pay London prices. However in general it was not that expensive to live in Stevenage this year, the free shuttle bus to and from the station and GSK also allowed me to save money on travel to work.
The nightlife in Stevenage itself is not that great, however there are a lot of pubs that are fun to go to for after work drinks on Fridays. For larger social events or more nightlife, Stevenage is only 25 mins from kings cross station on the train, so being close to London was useful as we were able to go out in London often and enjoy the nightlife there.
There were opportunities to get involved in fundraising events organised by GSK, and also there were lots of activities organised by the IPUNITE team at GSK so we could attend many social events with our friends outside of work. There is not too much to do in Stevenage but we still found many activities to do.