Working in a primarily lab-based scientific role in the novel human genetics research unit.
I thoroughly enjoyed my placement. I was able to get fully involved with my own project that had real implications in the wider program I was working within and I felt like a member of the team not just a placement student. The work life balance was great and there was very few instances where I had to take work home. The social life with other placement students and full time employees was great and I had the chance to socialise outside of work.
RateMyPlacement is currently advertising 23 roles at GSKView jobs now →
I felt very valued by my colleagues from people within my team to my supervisor, line manager and director. Everyone made a concerted effort to include me in technical discussions and listen to my thoughts and opinions, even in large group meetings. My ideas were discussed and developed and acted upon which was really rewarding. Throughout my time I felt like a valued member of the team and not simply a placement student within my project group and wider department.
I had formal weekly meetings with my supervisor and biweekly meetings with my line manager where specific plans regarding experimental and write up work would be discussed as well as the progress I was making on my university work. In addition to this my supervisor and line manager were often available for informal chats and questions regarding my work in and around the office which was incredibly helpful for small questions and general advice in the day to day job.
I was pretty busy most of the time. Due to the nature of the work I would often be very busy in the lab doing experimental work for a few days or a week and then would be busy doing data analysis and writing up the experiments. Sometimes there would be a few days quieter than others when making decisions as to what to do next and which new experiments to do. They also allowed me time to complete university work in work hours so quieter days often meant I would do this.
I was given a lot of responsibility during my placement. I was given a project that impacted the critical path, timelines and progression of the project which made my work very rewarding for me. While I was 'in charge' of this I was very well supported with fellow team members and my supervisor to ensure I was on track and comfortable with what I'm doing so while I was given responsibility I was not completely left to my own devices which was reassuring.
In terms of technical scientific skills, I was trained in multiple high-level scientific techniques that will be incredibly useful to me should I pursue a career in scientific research or a phd. These included technical laboratory skills as well as training in data analysis with different software. In terms of wider/more soft skills that I developed throughout my placement they will be invaluable to me going forward, no matter what I choose to do career wise.
The general atmosphere in my office was very positive. All of the other employees and industrial placement students were happy to be there and motivated to work to the best of their ability. Everyone was friendly and happy to help out where they can as well as very chatty at more informal times. I didn't come across anyone who wasn't approachable during my time there and I had a spent time with many colleagues and fellow industrial placement students outside of work.
The placement was well organised. The group and wider department had specific project set out and outlined for placement students prior to us arriving so we had work and targets to meet from the start of our time there. There were many opportunities organised for development both individually and with the wider industrial placement group. I joined the group seamlessly and they were very set up to take on industrial placement students and support them throughout.
The company invested a lot of time training me. Specifically training to use high level scientific techniques and analysis in the lab that was extensive. This was great, especially considering I was only working there for a year so investing a lot of time, effort and money in training us was really impressive on their part. Evidently the company was very committed to training and developing their employees and that's the same for the industrial placement students.
The immediate future prospects within biology R&D aren't great. They way the graduate market is playing out for scientific roles it seems you really need a phd to obtain entry level roles within the company. Due to this, full time jobs from the placement don't really exist which is a shame. Future employment after a phd is available but still incredibly competitive and people that are getting these entry level scientific roles are incredibly qualified (phd, post doc etc). They don't have graduate entry roles within R&D which is a big shame.
Yes there was a great social scene amongst fellow placement students and colleagues. IPUNITE (group of industrial placement students that organise socials and career events) organised socials and events like winter balls that were good fun. Outside of that I played football twice a week with a group of industrial placement students and also some colleagues from elsewhere within the company. Living with multiple other placement students helps as it exposes you to students outside of your department.
Stevenage is pretty average cost-wise to live in, especially for a place that is so close to London (20mins into central) my rent was particularly cheap but this was due to me having a small single room in my houseshare. It also wasn't too expensive to socialise in with pubs being average priced and multiple Wetherspoons in and around Stevenage.
The nightlife in Stevenage isn't great. There's one club/bar on one of the leisure parks but there are many pubs, some of which are pretty good and sometimes have music etc. Although as Stevenage is 20 mins into London you can access all of the London nightlife which is way better but incredibly expensive.
There was not too many opportunities to get involved in activities outside of work. I played football twice a week with a group of industrial placement students and also some colleagues from elsewhere within the company but this was really organised between ourselves. It really depends how proactive the other industrial placement students are at work but often we would organise to do other activities like bowling or going out for food. There were few opportunities organised for us formally by GSK or IPUNITE.