1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
Topicals release lab: finished-product testing, including pH, viscosity, chromatography, UV spectra etc. Involved in testing out new methods, other apprentice challenges like bee keeping, having the opportunity to take part in Duke of Edinburgh, becoming a STEM ambassador and regularly going to school to 'inspire the new generation'. 5 S champion - being assigned to areas that require constant upkeep or standardising to ensure lab life is simple. Helping with archiving, making reagents, being a part of the weekly repeat schedule (specific testing done on the same day of every week).
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
Trained in basic analytical skills such as pH testing and adjustment; viscosity testing, UV testing, etc. Developed skills such as microscopy testing, accurate pipetting techniques, chromatography and separation techniques. Developing personal skills such as leadership, working as part of a team and as an individual to meet deadlines, social skills involved in teaching and training other people.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
I really enjoy the program and the opportunities offered to me for being a part of the program. Surprisingly the interview and the induction process were calm affairs, and my usual work day involves tasks that I may challenge me, but I welcome the new experiences. The chances that are available to me, such as becoming a bee keeper and taking part in DofE, are something new that I have never took part in, and allow me to better myself whilst also having a good time.
4. How well organised/structured is your programme?
Every week I have a day away from the workplace to complete my academic studies without distractions. That day is always the same so that scheduling is easier from both my point of view and my work scheduler's point of view. Every new academic year there is a rotation to a different lab environment, which enables me to learn different techniques for different products.
5. How much support do you receive from your employer?
GSK is very supportive of the apprenticeship scheme, hence having one day off every week for academic studies, and also offering any study advice and knowledge they might have. They are also very encouraging in development, hence the DofE opportunity. They have also encouraged the bee project Barnard Castle apprentices have been working on.
6. How much support do you receive from your training provider when working towards your qualifications?
They are very supportive, offering extra days away from work during exam periods, and often offering their advice for academic projects, assignments and general studies. They also pay for trips that better our understanding. They have also lent the apprentices their own GSK laptops for study use. They regularly check in with apprentices regarding studies, to offer guidance or support if the apprentice requires it.
7. How well do you feel that your qualification (through your training provider) helps you to perform better in your role?
I am able to identify how and why certain components react together in the way that they do, enabling me to write reports on the testing after completion. I also understand the testing I do, which helps during training. Alternatively, I find that my work actually helps out with my learning, as a lot of what I do correlates with the analytical chemistry part of my degree
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.)
The apprentice network often organises nights out, and lead some of the projects such as the DofE, the bee keeping and renovating empty GSK property for STEM events. Besides all the work the apprentices do, GSK also offers a free pilates class, and has a football team that partakes in local games against other business' teams.
9a. Would you recommend GSK to a friend?
It's a great way to get into a science-based career, especially if you know what you want to do before going to university. It's a good opportunity to make friends globally and network across the business, with opportunities to work abroad in places like Italy etc. I would much rather work and learn and make friends whilst developing myself as a person, than go and sit in a lecture hall and counted as one of hundreds.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to GSK?
Research GSK before applying; it's a great way to incorporate buzz words into CVs and the online application form. If you make it to the assessment day, great! Be yourself through the interview, because the interviewers are looking for someone who would fit in with the team, not just someone who has qualifications. Keep in contact with the business when the occasion arises - answer the phone calls, attend webinars and try and get a good feel for the company even before your induction week!