I enjoyed having the opportunity to spend the majority of my working day in the lab, doing practical chemistry, as I feel that it was a more engaging and interesting way to learn chemistry, as opposed to lectures. It was stressful at times, because essentially you are treated as a full time employee, which is a big jump up from being a student.
I felt that my team members valued my contribution to the project, as I was given work to do that contributed to the project as a whole and benefited our objectives. I also felt that they valued me on a personal level, as they made the effort to include me in team social events and chatted to me on a daily basis.
I had weekly meetings with my supervisor to discuss my work and progress and he was always willing to offer guidance with lab and project work, as well as assistance with university work if I needed it. However, I felt at times that there could have been more support when I was struggling to meet certain personal development objectives.
The workload gradually increased throughout the year, as my skills and knowledge improved. At times I felt overwhelmed with the volume of work, but on the whole I felt that I was kept nicely busy and I was never without work to do. When tasks were completed, I could always ask for more work to do. However, I think that the additional pressure of having a 9-5 job and then spending my evenings/weekends doing uni work on top of that made it feel as though I never had any free time.
From my first experiment, I was responsible for synthesising compounds that were important for the team, however I had a higher level of supervision for the first few months whilst I was still being trained up. After that, I felt that I had a high level of responsibility, but I could always ask for assistance if needed.
The experience was invaluable for helping me to develop my lab skills and knowledge of how industrial chemistry works. I learned how to use pieces of equipment and how to set up a wide range of reactions, which will really help me in the future with both university labs and beyond.
It was quite quiet and not a lot of conversation, but this could've been because it wasn't full.
From start to finish there was a lot of structure and I knew what I was trying to achieve. There were clear timepoints which targets had to be achieved by.
There were some specific training courses, but the majority was learning on the job. I had goals for personal development and regularly discussed my progress with my supervisor, although I did feel that I didn't always have much guidance on how to achieve them if I was struggling to do so.
I am aware of the opportunities available and will consider them in the future, but for now I am not 100 % sure if I would want to go back there as a full time employee.
There were reps who organised events for fellow students, and although there were quite a few at the start, there weren't many towards the end of the year. A lot also revolved around alcohol, which didn't appeal to me as a non-drinker. However, every day the students would all go and have lunch together which was nice, and we also met up outside of work.
Living was quite expensive due to the close proximity to London, but the local shops and restaurants were quite reasonable.
There was 1 night club in the whole town, so not great! Although, you could get the train to London easily if you wanted, but that would be an expensive night out and limited the length of the night because the trains stopped so you couldn't miss the last one.
I joined a local running club, which was a great know to get to know people in the local area. GSK also had various sports activities and a gym so you could do sports with colleagues too.
Placement Year (10 Months+)
5th June 2020