1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
I am a laboratory analyst apprentice in my 3rd year of 4. My day to day tasks involve: the reviewing of international standards and procedures to identify gaps in our local procedures and to ensure the chemistry and microbiology laboratories method and specifications are current and correct, archiving of all documentation produced in the laboratory, updating of standard operating procedures (SOP's), administration of our laboratory information management system where all laboratory results are stored, and involvement in a number of key continuous improvement projects.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
Working at GSK has developed a variety of my skills, notably my transferable skills, skills which can be used in any future roles I enrol in. For example, presenting to an audience, verbal communication and problem solving. My apprenticeship involves me studying towards a BSc in bioscience and technology over 4 years via distance learning; all learning material and assignments can be accessed online meaning I do not have to commute to the university on a regular basis. Internally GSK provide a variety of courses for personal development only limited by your ambition and drive.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
Prior to starting the apprenticeship I was tentative and unsure what to expect, however the programme has been perfect for me personally by providing an alternative to going to university directly, I have been able to gain valuable work experience whilst working towards a degree part-time. The team I work with are very friendly and supportive, I can speak openly with confidence knowing my opinion or ideas are respected. I am very happy with apprenticeship so far and what it has offered me, it has definitely exceeded my expectations.
4. How valued do you feel by GSK?
Being an apprentice your initial thoughts are that you might not be valued to an equal level of those around you, however this has not been the case. One of GSK's 4 core values is 'respect for people' and it has been embedded into the foundations of how people work and interact with each other. There has been plenty of opportunities provided to get involved with projects and to learn new things, being limited only by your personal drive and ambition. GSK also has a great reward and recognition scheme for which managers have the opportunities to nominate members of their teams, including apprentices, to receive an award which can include financial gain for the recipient.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
I was the first apprentice to be recruited into the department I work in and as a result the structure of my programme wasn't very specific. There were a number of basic principles and techniques I was taught to work in the chemistry lab, beyond this it was left open for which direction I took. You can either view this as a limitation or a bonus, for me it was a bonus as it allowed me to decide what areas I wanted to develop my knowledge within. For my university work I am provided 1 full day a week to do study work which I do based at work at the computer using an online system named 'Moodle' to access course material. There is plenty of tasks available to contribute towards or take ownership. To summarise I would say the basic structure is in place, but beyond that it is very much open to what you want to learn and do, which is only limited by your personal drive and ambition.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
Being a distance learning student with university means naturally that face to face conversations with your programme leader are limited with phone or email being the preferred point of contact. When I first joined my programme leader travelled to my site of work to discuss the course I was enrolling on and to provide a general overview of what to expect. It was great to be introduced to them so early on and it helped to settle a few nerves at the time. Moving forward as your progressing through the course help is only an email or phone call away with responses being prompt. Support has always been available particular during times where stress may be apparent due to upcoming exams and deadlines for assignment submissions, if you have any problems you can discuss openly with your programme leader and come to solution that works best. I am enjoying my course very much so at the moment and have enjoyed the summer schools that the university provides; these are set weeks where you travel to the university to perform practical based assessments through which you get to meet other students on your course.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
Support has been provided for each stage of my apprenticeship from my manager to ensure I am happy with my current state. Every six months I have a meeting to review my progress and to discuss my plan for the future, this provides me the opportunity to discuss what I want to learn and what it would take to make that a reality. On site we have an early talent co-ordinator who is responsible for monitoring our development and to act as a point of contact if we have any concerns. They organise a meeting every month in which all the early talent members on site come together to discuss any upcoming events or information we might want to know. If at any point I have a problem I feel confident to discuss it with my manager who would help come to a solution that suits best. In general everyone I have worked with has been very helpful in assisting my development.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
The salary we receive is very competitive when compared to other apprenticeships reinforced by the great benefits that are on offer. In terms of living costs this is dependant on your personal situation, whether your living from home or renting a place to stay. Support is available if you need to find a place to stay in the local area. You will receive a salary review every six months whilst on your apprenticeship in which you can see increases applied, dependant on your performance your salary will increase by different amounts, significant increases are possible. The salary is sufficient to live in shared/rented accommodation and to support travel expenses when you start. If you are involved in a GSK associated event which requires travelling or accommodation, there is opportunity to claim the expenses back.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
There are plenty of opportunities to become involved with activities outside of work such as talks or careers events. I myself have become a registered STEM and SIP ambassador through which I become notified of careers events in the local area which I can go and attend at my manager's discretion. Our site holds an annual fun day each year in which they hire a field and jam pack it full of lots of interactive activities for yourself and any family and friends to enjoy. Outside of work a number of social events are regularly organised to go out for meals or a casual drink down the pub.
9a. Would you recommend GSK to a friend? *
9b. Why? *
GSK as a company have a brilliant culture which is reinforced by the workforce they employ. There are plenty of opportunities to develop as an individual, and you are always made to feel like a valued member of the organisation. The benefits provided to GSK employers are extensive and hard to come by when compared to many other companies. GSK have a very broad variety of jobs, therefore if you think you might not be in the right department personally, there is the possibility you can find a job in a different area of the company.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to GSK? *
The application process has a number of stages. Generally the first stage will involve an application process in which you answer a set of pre-determined questions. Following this you will be asked to participate in a number of online tests specific to the role you are applying for. If you are successful with this stage you will be asked to attend an interview stage with a number of other candidates applying for the same role. Within this day you will have an interview, possibly be asked to provide a presentation, you will be involved in a group activity and asked to perform a practical assessment related to the role you apply for. Whilst at the interview you will most likely be provided a tour of the site or area you would be working in
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