1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
I am a Business Systems Analyst Apprentice. My tasks mainly involve support and maintenance within the complex SAP software. Each day I primarily deal with the engineering planners and Ops Managers, sometimes including QA, to advance my workload. I also interact with SAP users generally to provide support and advice on the software. As a support function almost all my dealings are internal, but due to the size of the company this can involve dozens of people on a daily basis. I've already been involved in several large projects, a couple of which have been of my own devising.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
I'm working towards a level 4 in IT Professional Competency over 3 years, with the first 18 months being dedicated to a level 3, and the latter to level 4. I've done dozens of internal training courses and assisted in training other users also. Most recently I was elected to be trained as an SME (Subject Matter Expert) in a specific data piece. My general IT skills have also improved and I suspect will continue to do so for the duration of the scheme.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
I have thoroughly enjoyed my programme so far. My team is absolutely amazing and have been completely supportive from day one. My manager in particular has been fantastic and enrolled me on every training course we can get our hands on, this is the most supported I've ever felt in a role. The company itself has continued to impress me with their ethos and integrity. While the role is not exactly what I anticipated, every other factor at play has eased me into it and made the entire experience one I would highly recommend.
4. How valued do you feel by GSK?
As well as the support I've received, I've also been highly praised for my contributions so far. I was awarded a global recognition for my role in a project and commendations from my Regional Service Lead and the Director of the department for several others. It made me very proud and feel highly valued for the work I'd completed, and made me eager to continue contributing as much as I could.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
While the induction process was exceptional, offering a half-day site induction and a two-day company induction at the headquarters, I did feel somewhat out of my depth for the first month of the program. However, considering I am both the first IT apprentice at my site, and the first IT apprentice to be aligned to my department generally, this is not unexpected. The programme so far has been a learning process for all parties, so while it meant I was a little lost toward the beginning of the programme, it also means I can help shape the development for future apprentices in this role, which is an exciting opportunity.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
My assessor has consistently been in good contact, alternating between a face-to-face meeting and teleconferencing each month. She has consistently responded in good time to any email queries I presented, and has supported me throughout the process. She has a very positive attitude and is helping me to make the most of every opportunity I'm presented with, so even if I exhaust my support options internally she is always there to listen.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
My manager, as I've already said, has been absolutely exceptional and has supported me with every issue I've encountered, even when struggling with her own workload. I've tried to repay this by assisting her as much as I can now that I can stand on my own two feet. The levels of internal support have consistently impressed me. Alongside my manager, I have direct access to another site lead who is more closely involved with the apprenticeship, typically I take queries regarding the curricula we're due to cover in the programme to him, such as changing a module. I also have a custodian, who is not directly tied to me in any way, but voluntarily offers his time and acts as a 'mother hen' to all IT apprentices in the company. There is also an Early Talent team devoted solely to IT, who organise quarterly catch-ups and generally look after my interests, and if none of the above, the HR team has proven consistently helpful.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
The initial salary, though extremely generous for an apprenticeship, still makes it difficult to meet the costs. I relocated approx. 250 miles for this opportunity which has meant renting accommodation and becoming self-sufficient. However, I have just received my first annual bonus and was pleasantly surprised by what was provided, and am due a salary review next month based on the same system. These factors combined should ease the financial burden and enable me to start being more independent.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
I would say GSK is above average in this regard, but regrettably at my specific campus there are fewer than I would like. There seems to be an awful lot going on around the London area, as we have several sites in close proximity, including the company headquarters, and between them there seems a lot of opportunity for social and company events. However, my team was provided a Christmas meal at a choice of venues, which was a brilliant evening I thoroughly enjoyed, spending the evening with my day-to-day colleagues in a social setting. GSK has strong initiatives in place to support employees engaged in voluntary work, which I aim to become involved in this year. Additionally, a lot of the benefits provided through the TotalReward system are intended to get employees out and about in a positive way, providing things like half price gym memberships and cinema tickets.
9a. Would you recommend GSK to a friend? *
9b. Why? *
Loosely speaking because of everything I've written here. I would recommend them not only as a place to access training and development, but generally as an employer.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to GSK? *
The application process in place is similar to many other UK apprenticeships and involved an application and cover letter, assessments to take online and a face-to-face group interview. My main piece of advice would be to research the company values, and tailor your responses to apply to this criteria. The values are extremely highly valued within the company, so even if you're lacking experience or knowledge, with the right attitude it's possible to succeed.
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