This is an APPLIED analytical chemistry placement. Day-to-day responsibilities focused around supplying analytical support for in vivo and in vitro studies in early drug discovery.
I knew from early on in my placement that I was not interested in DMPK, which largely impacted my enjoyment of the year. Additionally, location and lack of peers with similar interests added to this. However, I found the year very valuable from a personal development point of view, so overall I felt indifferent towards my work placement.
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The extent I felt valued varied from colleague to colleague. I felt very valued and that my work was apreciated by my supervisor, who I primarily worked with, so this was how I felt the majority of the time. However, other colleagues were less appreciative, although this was down to the individual's personality.
I was very well supported and had a good relationship with my industrial supervisor, which greatly improved my outlook on the placement. This extended to all aspects, from pastoral care to role specific learning's. I felt comfortable to voice concerns and issues that I came across, personally and with the work I was doing. However, this was supervisor specific, other students on the same placement did not receive this level of care.
The workload varied considerably throughout the year, as is the nature of the pharmaceutical industry. There were weeks when I had no programme work, so just worked on my research project or completed ad hoc analyses, and other weeks when I had several programmes on the go at the same time.
I was responsible for providing analytical support for various research programmes, and checking the analysis and data interpretation of colleagues. I would have liked the opportunity to take on more responsibility during my placement for personal development, but the structure of the team meant that this was done by a different group.
The training and technical skills specific to the discipline that I developed during my placement are unlucky to be transferable to my degree (i.e. biological sample preparation not applicable to Chemistry). However, this year was invaluable from a personal development perspective and for gaining insight into full time work, working in an industry, and working in a corporate company.
Generally quiet. Our office employed 'hot-desking', meaning that no one had a fixed desk, so people moved around a lot and there was less of a 'community' feel to the office. It was also quite dark, as the windows were on the other side of a corridor which ran adjacent with the office.
At the start of the placement, organisation was quite poor. We had no consolidated training program, and program work was not split equally among students, due to the structure of the organisation. However, following a R&D group reorganisation this was improved, and a complete training programme is being produced for the next group of placement students
We received training for the standard laboratory techniques needed to complete bioanalysis, in addition to presentations on the theory of DMPK. However, this was not very well organised, as mentioned previously, with a lot being done latter on during the placement (4+ months in). There were also opportunities to attend various sessions/ presentations on other subjects in the pharmaceutical industry (ie. process chemistry lectures) and career advice.
We were offered a fast track onto GSKs future leader program (graduate scheme), meaning we got early access to the application process, provided our industrial supervisor agreed to recommend us. However, as I do not think I want to pursue a career in the pharmaceutical industry,
I did not take advantage of this.
There was a nation wide GSK industrial placement student network, whom organised site specific, cross site and nation wide social events throughout the year. For example, there were several activity nights organised in and around the town I was based in, in addition to a Christmas ball and summer boat party in London that was open to all placement student across the country.
Considering I was based a 25 minute train from London, cost of living was not too bad. However, after saving a portion of my wage and paying living expenses, I did not have much free income. I did have to make spending adjustments to what I had been used, having lived all my life and gone to university in the north.
The night life was very poor. I did not live in a particularly pleasant, a Wetherspoon's was as nice as any bars or pubs there got. However, London was only a 25 minute and relatively cheap (£7-10 return) train away, which obviously has a much better and more varied night life.
There was a sports centre on site. In addition to having a basic gym, they ran several sports groups (i.e. netball, football), for a reasonable price. There was also opportunity to get involved in various community projects at the site, such as fundraising and supporting the STEM initiatives (promoting the STEM subjects to school and college students).