1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
I work as a Laboratory analyst apprentice at GSK. This involves carrying out a range experiments, purifying compounds and testing them. I have my own fume cupboard to do my experiments in, and have had the opportunity to do so many different types of reactions! With some of the more complex experiments, I am helped by various other scientists within my lab. I have met with a vast range of full time employees across the site in meetings and in regards to helping with my university projects, and have gained a large amount of contacts from doing this. I am not treated like an apprentice- I have been given a huge amount of responsibility, and carry out a lot of my experiments now on my own or with little help.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
YES. I am studying towards a foundation degree course. So far, this has been mainly based on health and safety. However, from working in the lab on a day to day basis, I have learn an unbelievable amount in terms of organic chemistry. My supervisor takes the time to sit and explain the chemistry behind any reactions I am doing, and everyone is happy to answers questions and teach me how different machines work. Also, from attending various meetings, I have gained a lot of experience already in giving presentations and also being able to communicate well with a range of different people.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
I love the programme!! I think it's a great way to learn- by hands on experience! Working alongside other scientists really motivates me to learn more, and is also really helpful being taught by full time scientists as this enables me to have good lab skills- as I learn from the experts!
4. How valued do you feel by GSK?
I feel very valued- as I don't feel as though I am identified as any different from any other employee. I work on projects alongside other scientist in the lab, so I feel that my work is very important and valued by GSK. I have been rewarded for getting involved with career fairs and giving presentations on the apprenticeship scheme. I feel that everything I do is recognised by my manager, and GSK as a whole.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
My induction was the same used as for any other new employee. My supervisor ensured I was trained on anything I needed to be prior to me using any equipment etc in my normal work activities. I receive a lot of support from my supervisor and other members of the team in my lab as they are always happy to answer questions and show me how things work. I have one study day a week, and I am able to choose what day this is depending on the week. I have a mentor at work that goes through some of the chemistry I do at work in more detail, but also teaches me various things that I would be learning at university in later years. I carry out similar work to the other scientists in my lab, so I do actually contribute to the aims of the company. I am not always learning new things, However I learn a lot from observations during my normal day to day work. I think the apprenticeship programme as a whole will become a lot more structured in the next few years/ as the company take on my apprentices, as I am one of the few at my site.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
As I am on a distance learning course, it is sometimes quite difficult to get hold of my tutors quickly, however we speak via emails fairly regularly. We are sent our work/projects to complete, and if there are any problems, they are always sorted out efficiently.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
I have attended a range of different events as a GSK employee and have taken part in many different activities on site. my supervisor is very encouraging and allows me to do this, which helps me to gain more contacts and develop new skills. I also have a mentor that gives me extra chemistry lessons at GSK. this is massively helpful as it aids me during my day to day work, but also means that I am quite far ahead in terms of my university foundation degree course. Everyone is very friendly and willing to help/ answer my questions.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
Very well. It is above minimum wage, and I feel that for my age, I am in a very good position.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
Yes- I have attended a lot of careers fairs and events in which include promoting apprenticeships to schools and school leavers. some of these have taken place at school and also at public venues like leisure centres. I am yet to attend a week long team building course with all the other apprentices at GSK in the UK. This will involves a vast range of physical activities, for example climbing and rafting. There is a gym on site that I attend regularly.
9a. Would you recommend GSK to a friend? *
9b. Why? *
I feel that they are very supportive in my apprenticeship and my willingness to learn, and I think that as a company, their aims and interests are parallel to mine- to help people all across the world. This is a very hands on apprenticeship, and GSK offers the opportunity for me to gain a huge amount of experience in both laboratory work and also general life skills that will help me to become a better person, and to help me to enhance my 'soft skills' like communication and team work.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to GSK? *
One of the most important things to portray is your passion towards the job you are applying for. Your interest and enthusiasm is very appealing to any employer. GSK offers a huge amount of opportunities, and if you get offered any of these, I advise that you take them :)
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