1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
On a day to day basis I am working in the laboratory, carrying out experiments that will contribute to my overall project. In my second year of the apprenticeship I have done a rotation into the Vector Development team where I have been given my own project to work on. This involves multiple cloning steps, so I am learning the techniques involves in this. I also attend meetings and presentations from the wider group to update my knowledge on the different projects that are going on. Once a week I have my study day to do my university work.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
I have learnt a countless number of skills since starting my apprenticeship with GSK. With regards to lab work, I didn't even know how to hold a pipette when I first joined so I have had to learn a lot since then! Now I am running my own experiments, using techniques such as cell counting, measuring DNA, running gels, gel extractions, transformations.. the list is endless. I have also learnt many skills required for a working environment; how to write emails, time management, prioritising, presentation skills.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
I thoroughly enjoy working at GSK, I always feel so lucky to have been given the opportunity to work and get my degree at the same time. No day is ever the same, and there is always something that I can be doing. Still being able to learn and get my degree is an added bonus.
4. How well organised/structured is your programme?
The programme has flexibility within the job role; if there is an opportunity to do a rotation this can be an option if it suits. The university programme is structured well with topics we need to finish each week and modules we need to sit in each exam period. It is easy to work towards and keep track of.
5. How much support do you receive from your employer?
The support we get from GSK is invaluable. Having 24/7 support whenever we need it from our managers/mentors/buddies is so helpful. Everyone is always so willing to help whether that be in the laboratory or in general day to day work. My manager is always concerned about allowing me enough time to complete my university work and ensures I do not have too much on my plate.
6. How much support do you receive from your training provider when working towards your qualifications?
Distance learning is quite difficult when trying to achieve a degree. Without explanation from a lecturer, reading the content off study guides can be difficult and sometimes feels as if you are missing out on that depth of learning that others get from university. We get regular one to ones with our university representatives where we can feedback where necessary.
7. How well do you feel that your qualification (through your training provider) helps you to perform better in your role?
The course helps me to understand the basic scientific topics that are explored within my workplace. The coursework is helpful in researching areas of the company which we would not usually know about. There is a lot of wider reading of papers and journal reviews that need to be done within my role, and the concepts in the course sometimes help with that.
8. Are there extra-curricular activities to get involved in at your work? (For example, any social activities, sports teams, or even professional networking events.)
I am currently the Social and Collaborations lead for the Southern Region for NxtGen. This involves organising socials and events for the apprentices and increase participation and engagement from all southern sites. I play 5-a-side football with the R&D and tech social team on a Tuesday and also am part of the Spirit Committee for my department, to help organise events throughout the year e.g. summer BBQ, Halloween, bake offs etc.
9a. Would you recommend GSK to a friend?
GSK is a great place to work. The supportive and motivating environment helps you to be productive and get the most out of tasks that you need to complete. This mind set also helps you to keep on top of your university work, and stay motivated to do well. They are a great training provider.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to GSK?
Always be yourself in the interview. GSK have a lot of values that we have to stick to in everything that we do in work. It is important that these values also mean a lot to you too. Be personable and honest in interviews and assessment centres and always try to do your best.