I thoroughly enjoyed my work placement at GSK. I had a really varied experience, with the opportunity to work with lots of different teams as well as individually, acting as a team leader and team member. Everyone I met was really friendly, approachable and supportive and was really keen to help build your skills and knowledge and learn more about you as an individual.
The work I was given was sometimes challenging but that is what in the end made it so enjoyable to reflect on, realising the achievements I have had and the people I have met - it really pushed me to problem-solve, and equally support was always there if I needed it.
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Something I really appreciated at GSK was that my colleagues did not treat me as though I was "just a student", or someone there for their convenience to make cups of tea.
I was really treated as part of the team, included on all team meetings etc. and given the opportunity to contribute even though I did not have as much to say as others.
I had two 30-minute 1-1 sessions with my manager per week for the full duration of my placement. This was something my manager does with every incumbent placement student but is not a requirement.
These were times for open and honest conversations, opportunities to ask any questions on things I was unsure about and to seek advice.
It was also made very clear that I could always ask for additional help as and when I needed it - everything didn't have to wait for those 1-1 sessions, and we had other sessions throughout the year to talk about my development, relfect on things I had learned and areas for improvement.
Comfortably busy. I always had plenty of tasks that would pop up here and there which I would address as they came up, in addition to having a number of longer-duration projects which I would work on when I had the time, e.g. a free morning or afternoon.
There were very few occasions, most of which were when I was just starting out at GSK, where I didn't have much to do, however as my abilities and confidence grew and I got to know more people, more and more opportunities arose for my support.
I also had a number of regular team-related meetings a week, ad-hoc meetings and 1-1s with my manager which accounted for some time through my week.
In summary, I was on the whole comfortably busy. Not overloaded, not sat around bored, but had enough to be getting on with.
I was given a lot of responsibility throughout my placement, which is something I really valued about my time at GSK. I almost felt as though I was treated as an equal to my colleagues despite them all being very experienced professionals.
I was given opportunities to lead on tasks and projects, facilitate meetings and assist in other important matters when there was a suitable opportunity. Equally if I was uncomfortable, it was made clear that I shouldn't be afraid to ask for help.
Overall, I believe the variety of experiences I enjoyed at GSK have allowed me to be an all-round more confident person, which will help me wherever I go in life.
I think in terms of employability, I have experienced a lot about working in a global, corporate environment and have been exposed to many of the different issues that can arise as part of the routinely functioning of the business, and have learned a lot of life skills from observing my colleagues, e.g. how they deal with other challenging colleagues or customers etc.
Very pleasant. At GSK House, the global HQ, the offices are "open", however your business function has an allocated couple of rows of seating and nobody has "their own" desk.
Everybody was really friendly and wanted to get to know me personally, as well as how they might be able to help me make the most out of my experience.
It was really positive and everyone was really approachable if I had something I needed support with - in the early days this may have been something as simple as using the printers.
Occasionally we would go for coffees or lunch together as well.
I was the fourth placement student that my function has had, so the foundations for the role had already been set: for example people in the team being on-board to utilise my spare pair of hands if needed; 1:1s set up between myself and my manager; my laptop, badge etc. were all pre-ordered in preparation for my start date. I had very little stress or concern before or during the early phase of my placement.
My manager and I had series of meetings throughout the year to discuss my development and make sure I was to be getting as much out of them, GSK, as they were of me. We drafted development plans, discussed anything that may specifically be of use to me and my university course to endeavour in whilst at GSK.
A number of training resources were available via GSK's "myLearning" platform; a resource filled with plenty of training courses from Harvard ManageMentor and others. I was able to complete a course from the latter provider on project management, for example.
I was also given tasks to challenge me and put me out of my comfort zone in the interests of my development.
Very appealing. You can apply for the GSK Future Leaders Programme in the business area of your choice, which is usually a 2-3 year programme, often rotational (but not always) to allow you to build a range of skills and knowledge in your business area.
There is not necessarily an advantage to you securing a place on the FLP by being a placement student at GSK, however there is presently the "manager recommendation process" whereby you can skip the first couple of steps of the application process (which you would have already had to successfully pass to become a placement student), but this is only if your manager is willing to recommend you and if you meet the benchmark scoring.
GSK also have "direct entry" roles - graduate level jobs which aren't as focussed on development and leadership as the FLP.
IP (Industrial Placement) Unite is the group by students, for students, that organise various events and activities throughout the year, both in and outside of the workplace for you to get involved in, similar to a society at university. Obvious examples were pub-crawls, a ball at Christmastime and other events of that nature.
Unfortunately, GSK's HQ is in Brentford, West London, which was not a cheap area to live in. However, the placement student wage is comfortable and I didn't struggle to pay rent on the bedroom I rented in a shared house, it just meant keeping an eye on my expenditure and making the effort to bring lunch to work, instead of buying in the canteen every day.
GSK House is situated in Brentford, London, which is well-connected in terms of transport to central London, as well as having its own collection of pubs and restaurants.
Central London was very accessible, which goes without saying has brilliant night life. The only drawback is the cost of nightlife, compared to what students (who don't study in London) are used to.
GSK have Orange Days which are opportunities for every employee to take a paid day to volunteer with a charitable organisation.
IP (Industrial Placement) Unite is the group by students, for students, that organise various events and activities throughout the year, both in and outside of the workplace for you to get involved in, similar to a society at university. At the beginning of the placement year (around July-time) there are elections for different positions in IP Unite that you can fulfil for the year.