Exploratory Biomarker Assay Department
I enjoyed my placement at GSK. The variety of diverse opportunities made available to internal placement students at GSK was a real highlight. I was able to develop a wide range of interpersonal skills. This included networking and socialising with fellow internal placement students and getting involved in lots of events. This included conferences, presentations, poster symposiums at work. Outside of work there is a network on internal placement students at the GSK Stevenage site allowing for lots of social events and group activities.
My team was very welcoming when I started my placement. they made sure I understood my role, the role of the group and the techniques we use. I initially shadowed my colleagues in the lab before progressing into setting my own experiments and contributing to projects. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic placement students worked from home. Despite this my team still made me feel valued and I was able to contribute to group objectives through tasks such as documentation.
My supervisor gave great support and guidance. Initially they provided me guidance documents and papers so I could get familiar with the techniques and methods in the department. This therefore meant I could contribute to team meetings and discussions. initially I shadowed my supervisor in the lab before he supported me in conducting my own experiments. My supervisor always offered guidance in problem solving ad optimising methods with his wealth of technical expertise and experience. whilst working from home there was less support however I my supervisor still worked hard to allow the completion of my project.
Whilst on site at GSK I was busy in the lab running my own experiments to support projects. Outside this there were regular team meetings and project meetings which were interesting. Both on site and working from home I was able to watch a variety of seminars provided by GSK. These were on immunology, genomics and recent scientific discoveries. I was also part of the STEM committee and STEM engagement committee meaning I volunteered in a variety of STEM events of site. These included site tours, careers sessions and Q&A's for A-level and GSCE students.
Whilst on site I was given the responsibility of a project which I had to design and run experiments for. This was under the supervisor of my supervisors and fellow members of the team however I still felt I had responsibility and ownership for the assay. In addition whilst working from home tasked with some documentation projects and guidance document generation. I would be responsible for updating and generating these documents with guidance from my team.
Both the technical and interpersonal development I have undergone whilst on my internal placement at GSK is so integral for my future career development. I have gained valuable skills and techniques in the lab which I could not have gained in my degree. On top of this I have improved my networking, problem solving, analytical thinking and communication skills greatly. This will support me into my final year of university and into future career paths. Overall I feel much more confident in my ability to progress.
It was good. Our department was quite small and shared a larger office with another department. Our team was always social with lunch together and regular snacks and sweet tricks. There were also coffee and tea breaks as well as birthday celebrations. The office was sometimes cold and there were issues with seating with the other groups spilling into our area. However the overall atmosphere was good with easy access right next to the lab. I always felt comfortable to complete my tasks.
The student recruitment group (SRG) sets up internal placements on behalf of GSK. Overall the set up was good with the familiarisation day on site providing good information and a welcome. However there was sometimes a lack of communication between GSK and SRG. Information about holidays, pay, hours and working from home in light of the pandemic was not very clear. In the future there should be clearer communication and more universal communication to make it easier for internal placement students and their supervisors.
I was able to develop a wide range of technical skills in the lab on behalf of my team. In addition there were talks and seminars put of for all placement students on development, careers, CV's, networking, leadership and PhD's. These were useful and helped with my development. My team leader also encouraged me to complete a strength based assessment to find out my strengths and weaknesses and therefore develop on them. In addition GSK puts a wide range of seminar's of lots of different science topics. This meant I could hear about lots of different departments and discoveries in the company.
Staff Sales/Staff Shop
Working from home
At GSK there are multiple options for future employment. There is the future leaders programme which the graduate scheme. As a placement student you have a fast tracked admission process and your supervisor can recommend you. In addition there are graduate roles which are direct entry. these are straight into a role and as a placement student you are more favoured than other applicants. The network I have built with lots of supervisors has helped me build my connections for future roles.
There are around 100 placement students at the Stevenage GSK site. The social scene is good with an internal placement student UNITE committee which functions like a university society to put on events for placement students. There were scheduled socials to the pub, networking events, and a large Christmas ball. This was with all the internal placement students from all over the UK. There is also informal socialising in the form of nights out, football clubs and runs.
Stevenage is quite a cheap place to live dependent on what are of town you live in. There are larger supermarkets in the centre of town making the cost of living quite cheap with easy access to the shops. There are good cycle ways and there is a free shuttle bus to site from the train station making getting to work very cheap and easy. with regards to socialising there is lots of reasonably priced clubs, bars and restaurant's as well as a trampoline park and leisure park. the trains to London and Cambridge are also very reasonably priced and quick.
The nightlife was okay. There was 1 club in Stevenage and quite a few bars and pubs. It is not a huge city so does not have the most diverse range of night life. The 1 club was quite expensive and not always open. There were quite often socials to the pub. Stevenage is also quite close to Cambridge and London on the train. This made it easier to go out there. There were quite often small parties in houses of placement students which more fun.
As an internal placement student I had the opportunity to go to a technology user meeting with my supervisor. This meant I could meet and network with scientists from all around the work and see what other roles in the industry there are. As a STEM ambassador I was also able to lead tours, careers sessions and Q&A's for A-level and GCSE students outside of my normal role. this was really enjoyable and played a large part in completing the recognised EDT Industrial cadet Platinum Leaders Award.
Placement Year (10 Months+)
Medical/Health, Pharmaceutical, Science/Research
East of England
26th August 2020
£16,000 - £17,999