Medicinal organic chemist at GSK

Top Employer
Placement Year (10 Months+)
Stevenage Greater London
Review Date
£20,000 - £21,999
Chemistry Design Pharmaceutical Science/Research

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The Role



The Role

1. To what extent did you enjoy your work placement or internship?

I enjoyed my job most of the time however some aspects of it were very repetitive which sometimes made it dull and boring and made me lack resilience. I enjoyed synthesising things, collaborating with others and learning new techniques and apparatus. It was exciting to be a part of important meetings.


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2. To what extent did you feel valued by your colleagues?

I did not feel valued by my direct manager and if I were valued by others in my lab, I wasn't being told that. However weirdly I did feel valued by my project team, as they have actually told me that I am doing a good job and helping the project to progress.


3. To what extent were you given support and guidance by management/your supervisor(s)?

In the beginning my manager was giving me guidance, however quickly that has stopped and there was lack of supervision from her. Half of my skills came from the other scientists in the lab. There was poor communication from her and mild bullying. But I was given support by her boss when I let him know of what was happening and he did try to resolve the issues.


4. How busy were you on a daily basis?

Most of the days I would have a lot of work to do and I would know exactly what to do and how to organise my time for each of the tasks. However, sometimes when there wasn't clear direction from my manager I would have nothing to do. Also, sometimes my manager would suggest I do something else, whilst I already had something ongoing which meant that I would be overwhelmed with work.


5. How much responsibility were you given during your placement?

I was responsible for myself in the lab, for planning the experiments and executing them. I was also responsible for coming up to my manager and discussing my work with her. I took charge and was running student sessions, took initiative in helping out with wider site activities. Additionally I made several presentations over my time on placement and presented my work in project meetings.


6. To what extent did/will the skills you developed, and training you received, assist you in your degree studies and beyond?

I have done a lot of synthetic chemistry (practical skills), learnt about new techniques, shortcuts, analysis of NMR and LCMS and TLC plates. Additionally even if I do not go into a science career after graduating I have improved my leadership, communication, engagement, teamwork skills and my confidence has definitely increased too.


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The Organisation

7. What was the general atmosphere in your office?

The people were friendly most of the time, we had great tea breaks most days and the students in the lab did form a little close knit community. However we did not have many social occasions outside of the office, which would have been nice to have like other groups did, and there were times when everyone was stressed and the atmosphere in the office was very low and unpleasant.


8. How well organised was the overall work placement or internship set up?

We had a day on site prior to starting the job in June (start was at the end of August) which gave us all a chance to meet all the students and see the site and meet our managers and get a tour of the labs. I would say that the whole group of student activities were organised very well but things were a bit more complicated when we had to set our laptops up as the managers were not sure what we did and did not have access to so maybe a checklist for managers would be useful.


9. In terms of personal training and development, to what extent did the company or firm invest in you?

The company ran multiple sessions on green chemistry, how to use specific apparatus, setup of the labs. It also gave us the opportunity to shadow other students at different sites, and additionally visit another site however due to COVID-19 these visits never happened. There were also plenty of weekly seminars that we could attend to increase our science knowledge.


10. What were the perks on your work placement?

  • Sports and Social Club
  • Subsidised/Company Gym
  • Staff Sales/Staff Shop

11. How appealing are future employment prospects within the organisation?

With how the department that I worked that is set up, I would not like to work there. It would take years to progress and I'm not sure that the progress would be worth it. Additionally, I don't think that the perks of this company are as good as other equivalent companies.



12. Was there a good social scene amongst any fellow placement students/colleagues?

There was a good social scene amonst some students but the groups were very clique and if you missed a single meet up then you would be like an outsider. The IP unite group did try to organise events for the students but the events were overpriced and disappointing so only one of them ever ran.


13. What was the cost of living and socialising in the area you worked in?

The rent was relatively cheap (small room £400 a month with bills and 15 mins walk to site and 15 mins walk to town centre/train station). The pubs were cheap and there was good train links to London so I was able to go there in the evenings after work to socialise; that was great!


14. What was the Nightlife like in the area you worked?

1 club: very disappointing and depressing. But great links to London an dlate trains so could always go there to socialise and go out more.


15. Were there many opportunities to get involved in activities outside of work?

none existent


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