Meet our placement students

Thinking of applying for one of our 12 month Industrial Placements? Hear from our current placement students to find out what it’s really like working at GSK, and get some great tips, advice and other useful information to help you understand which programme could be right for you.

Meet Johnny – Industrial placement, Communications

IT

Mayo 

Mayo Runsewe

My top three highlights:

  • Playing a major role in introducing Skype for Business to GSK.
  • Being placed in charge alongside other IPs of a project to introduce an upgraded version of our collaborations tools.
  • Pitching an idea to improve our internal topic sites to my team and getting the idea approved and supported.

Role and responsibilities

My main responsibilities include:

  • Carrying out analysis on metrics recovered from our various applications.
  • Acting as the middle man between my team and our customers. I do this by creating and/ or editing help documents which aid customers to better use our applications.
  • I facilitate both high level and medium level meetings for my team, including our weekly team meeting.

I have also had the chance to manage small but important projects. With these I have had to coordinate a small team of individuals from around the world. In November, I helped a group of colleagues organise a charity event and a skydive to raise money for Save the Children.

Advice and tips

Before applying make sure you do your research about the company and the type of job roles they have on offer. This would help a lot especially when you have to make a decision regarding the role you eventually accept.

While in the company, try and find a niche within your team, ie find something you’re good at that no one else is and own that skill. This will make you stand out and it’s likely your team will want you to stick around.

There’s a wealth of knowledge within GSK, make sure you use it. If you need help with something ask around, most people are more than happy to help out or point you in the right direction.

Plans for the future

I'll definitely be applying for the graduate scheme and if I get accepted I’ll look to develop my career in this company. If I’m not successful, I shouldn’t have to look too far for opportunities elsewhere. GSK has opened the door to many opportunities simply by being a name on my CV. 

 

Kieron

My top three highlights:

  • Getting real world IT work experience in a global company.
  • Being trained in a leading analytics tool and applying this to create dashboards that transforms the way teams visualise their performance.
  • Developing a deep understanding of an area and role in IT that I didn’t know existed before my placement.

Role and responsibilities

Working in Global Manufacturing Supply (GMS) IT Business Intelligence (BI) has given me the opportunity to develop a mixture of business-facing and technical skills to support the GMS IT BI business process partner team. I have had the opportunity to learn about best in class business intelligence solutions to support a global pharmaceutical company.

The role teaches a great breadth and depth of business and technical skills. The business partnering skills which I have developed are highly transferable and are key in all modern IT roles. I've also had the opportunity to bring my own relevant skillset to make a difference in a department that provides a number of different services - including traditional business analysis, service management, communication strategy and project management - to the wider business.

Other responsibilities have included publishing the GMS exec monthly dashboard, overseeing performance management of team meetings, organising a quarterly networking event, and involvement in the GSK dissertation scheme committee.

Away from the day job I have also being involved with administration for GSK's women’s leadership initiative, and volunteered for Comic Relief.

Advice and tips

Research GSK thoroughly before the interview - this will make the application process much easier. Once on placement the time will go by fast so make sure you know what you want to get out of your placement and work with your manager and team to work towards these objectives.

GSK is such a large company that there are always opportunities to get involved in a wide variety of work. Never be scared to try something that might be out of your comfort zone as there will always be someone to encourage and support you.

Research and Development

Caroline

My top three highlights:

  • All the hands-on experience in the lab – much better than uni! 
  • Getting involved in actual research in a stimulating and rewarding environment
  • Building relationships with the great people I’m working with

Role and responsibilities:

I’m based mainly in the lab, carrying out multiple techniques such as MSD (MesoScaleDiscovery) Assays, Flow Cytometry, RNA (RiboNucleic Acid) extraction, PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) experiments and PBMC (Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cell) extraction from blood. Each completed experiment helps to build up a bigger picture of what we’re trying to achieve. It’s really good adding pieces to the puzzle and getting closer to an answer.

I also spend a lot of time preparing for each experiment, making presentations post-experiment, filling in electronic lab notebooks (eLNBs) and reading around the research area. It’s great to have the time to discover more about the things that really interest you, without having to focus on just one area like we do for exams at university.

The lab experience  has been invaluable – I’m so much more confident in the lab now and will definitely be sad to leave.

Advice and tips

Only apply if you know you’re going to enjoy it – I wouldn't advise Industrial Placements (IPs) who are not interested in research to apply for a Research & Development placement – just a suggestion after knowing people who have not enjoyed their year.

If you succeed in getting a placement, appreciate it! Work hard and take every opportunity. Make the effort with full-timers – they’re a great bunch.

Plans for the future

I will definitely be applying for a PhD next year following this placement. The IP experience has made me eager to continue into further research and hopefully I will return to pharma in the near future. 


Emily

Ellen Jarman

My top three highlights:

  • The Industrial Placement (IP) community in Ware -  at the Research & Development and Global Manufacturing and Supply site in Ware there are about 40 IPs in total. So there’s a lot of IPs to socialise with both in and outside of work.   
  • Having responsibilities and knowing your work is important and contributing to your team.
  • Experiencing daily life in the workplace, learning about how the company is run.

Role and responsibilities

As an analytical scientist I have received lots of training for different techniques in the lab. I work in the late-stage development of respiratory products, so testing ranges from impurities testing to stability testing. For every technique, there is always a High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) run to perform at the end.

For every piece of lab work, I have to write up an experiment. This includes analyzing and importing HPLC data and using analytical methods to assess the outcome of the experiments.

The job includes a lot of communication, finding out what needs testing when and where, working in pairs in the lab and presenting my data to the team.

This year I am also the Ware R&D Site Ambassador for IP Unite, GSK's IP st6udent community. I attend monthly meetings with an elected IP from each GSK site across the UK, discussing any issues IPs have brought forward, planning upcoming IP Unite socials and communicating any messages back to the Ware R&D IPs.

Each site has an annually chosen charity and there are lots of opportunities to help with fundraisers throughout the year, including bake sales and raffles. Also there’s the opportunity to become a STEM ambassador, going into schools and inspiring young people to go into careers in Science, Technology, Engineering or Maths. 

Advice and tips

  • During the application process, ensure you have up-to-date information on GSK, such as any major new investments or appearances in the news.
  • Take as many opportunities as possible to get involved with extra-curricular and on-the job projects.
  • Always be aware of networking opportunities and making new connections.
  • Enjoy the year as much as possible and try to experience as much as you can.
  • Go on site tours and shadow other IPs with different jobs.


Catherine

Catherine Howe

My top three highlights:

  • Having the opportunity to attend the Frank Morton Event in Manchester with GSK, a sports and networking event for students studying Chemical Engineering across the country. I played handball with a team of Industrial Placement (IP) students and graduates at GSK.  
  • I've had the chance to visit other GSK sites such as Stevenage, Ware and Slough during my placement to experience different manufacturing facilities such as small-scale primary manufacture, global pharmaceutical manufacture and consumer health care manufacture.
  • The IP Unite Christmas Ball – it was great to get together in London with all the IPs from many different sites for a formal social event.   

Role and responsibilities

My main project is looking at Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations (DSEAR), and using these regulations to ensure that there is a safe working environment in the Pilot Plant at Ware R&D.

During this project I have performed a review of all of the equipment held in the Pilot Plant and assessed whether there is an explosive risk associated with each piece of equipment. I have written reports as supportive documentation for following DSEAR.

Some other projects have involved looking at new equipment to bring into the plant to improve on safety and quality. I work on concerns that are raised by departmental members, finding solutions to eliminate the concerns and improve ways of working. I also spend time on personal development which includes training, workshops, shadowing team members and attending meetings.  

I am a member of the IP Unite Social Team and am also a registered Science Technology Engineering Maths (STEM) Ambassador which opens up volunteering opportunities with local schools and science fairs.

Advice and tips  

Read the job description carefully, picking out skills that you can demonstrate with examples. Also read the GSK values and think about ways in which your values align with them.

And remember - when you are on placement, opportunities aren’t just handed to you on a plate – you have to go out and seek them to get the most out of your time here!    

Plans for the future

I am planning on applying for GSK’s Future Leaders Graduate Programme – a fast-track programme to senior management which builds future leaders for the company. While on placement I have heard great things about it from graduates currently on the programme, including the variety of roles on offer within the business and the opportunity to travel abroad.

A PhD is also on the cards! 

Sales and Marketing

Helen

Helen Kirkpatrick

My top three highlights:

  • Sharing an office with the world’s largest seamless high-resolution touch screen.
  • Watching shopper research in real time in our futuristic ‘viewing room’
  • The GSK salad bar! 

Role and responsibilities

I work as a Shopper Science Lab Executive in GSK’s world class Shopper Science facility. The Shopper Science Lab serves two main purposes. Firstly, it is used to create and use shopper insights through research. Secondly, the space is used for collaboration with retailers. We aim to strengthen our relationships with them through mutually beneficial projects.

My responsibilities are varied and each day is different. We use a lot of technology in the lab and I often help brand teams to use it when they are conducting research in our facility. I am also responsible for organising and leading internal tours around the lab. We use these tours to show brand teams how they can use the facilities to generate insights and update the sales and category teams about how they might wish to collaborate with retailers.

I have been heavily involved in projects with a key retailer and will continue to collaborate with them throughout the year. On top of all of this, I also juggle a number of responsibilities such as co-managing bookings and catering requests, keeping up-to-date records of everything that takes place in the lab and the outcomes of these events, and pursuing my own projects and charity work.

Consumer healthcare Industrial Placements are given a target sum of money that they should raise for charity each year. So far, I have been an active member in a charity team which focused its fund raising efforts around the Rugby World Cup. We organised a number of sweepstakes throughout GSKH, sold official England jerseys at a discounted price and auctioned off signed rugby memorabilia. This was a highly successful effort and we raised a total of £3896.22, a healthy contribution to our £25,000  target. We have now far surpassed our target and are on track to raise over £31,000.

Advice and tips

Make your interests clear. Be straightforward about what you would like to get out of your placement year. GSK are great at selecting candidates for roles in which they are well suited. That is how I ended up in the Shopper Science Lab, a role which utilises science and psychology.

Plans for the future

I study Business Management but science is heavily embedded in everything we do here at GSK. I have realised during my time here that I wish to pursue a career in the health/pharmaceuticals industry. Primarily in a role which utilises science on a daily basis. I am now exploring post-graduate options that will allow me to do so. These options range from a masters in neuroscience to a four year medical degree!

Human Resources

Ellen

Ellen Jarman

My top three highlights:

  • Meeting such great people – both other IPs and my managers who have invested time to teach and encourage me.
  • Independently writing and presenting a workshop on ‘Building confidence’ at an external recruitment event for women in technology.
  • Planning, coordinating and supervising an event for over 70 university students to visit GSK House and learn about our career opportunities.

Role and responsibilities

As the IT Early Talent Coordinator I have a varied role that allows me to get involved with a number of different teams and diverse projects. I am on an HR placement but my role is business-embedded, so I work closely alongside the IT organisation.

My role is to assist in the programme management of all early talent employees within IT, such as apprentices, placement students, interns and graduates. I work on every aspect of the employee cycle, including attraction, recruitment, development and retention.

I liaise with our early talent employees, line managers and senior leaders throughout the year to understand the business requirements and ensure that everyone feels well supported.

The day job

A typical day for me may involve meeting with the early talent team to plan development events, then prepping for a graduate assessment centre and finally discussing apprentice training with a line manager. During our peak recruitment season I get to attend offsite events such as university career fairs, apprentice open days, or more targeted recruitment sessions. I usually plan, facilitate or present at meetings on a day to day basis, so I get to interact with a variety of people throughout my day. 

Other opportunities

My role keeps me very busy, but I still enjoy getting involved with extra opportunities here at GSK. I am part of the IP Unite corporate events team, where I help arrange business events and skill sessions for more than 300 Industrial Placements. I have also volunteered with SPARK, a local charity that GSK supports.

In partnership with SPARK, a group of us attended a local college to conduct mock interviews with Year 11s. It was great fun interviewing the students and they were very appreciative of the advice we provided at the end. There are lots of ways to volunteer while on your placement, and I hope to take part in a few other events before my year is over.

Advice and tips

  • Say yes to opportunities that are relevant to your personal interests or goals to get the most out of your year
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions, remember that you are here to learn and most people will be happy to teach you.
  • Keep a journal or log during your placement so that you can remember all of your fantastic achievements!