- 1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
- 2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
- 3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
- 4. How well organised/structured is your programme?
- 5. How much support do you receive from your employer?
- 6. How much support do you receive from your training provider when working towards your qualifications?
- 7. How well do you feel that your qualification (through your training provider) helps you to perform better in your role?
- 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.)
- 9a. Would you recommend GSK to a friend?
- 9b. Why?
- 10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to GSK?
I work within the Biostatistics department, and most of my time is spent interacting with my line manager, my team and my project colleagues. Every person I have spoken to so far has been friendly and welcoming. I also participate in external presentations where I talk about my experiences as a data science apprentice. I often find myself writing code for data cleaning, writing tests for data validation, and amending/updating existing code. I also assist in developing websites, dashboards, tools and applications which support other teams with their work. For example, one project I have worked on is data wrangling for clinical trial recruitment. Some coding languages I use are R, Python, SQL and web development languages such as HTML and CSS. One day per week I also attend university and watch a blend of live and recorded lectures.
My time here at GSK has taught me just how important time management, organisation and communication skills are. Everyday you may have a new task added to your list of things to do, so it's your responsibility to decide how you prioritise your tasks. It is also important to know how to organise all the files you work on so you can access and share them efficiently when needed. Furthermore, communication is imperative - it is good to always keep your line manager and project colleagues up to date. I have learnt many skills since starting my apprenticeship. At the beginning I had zero experience in coding and now I can design a fully functional app using the Shiny capabilities of R. I mostly work with R programming language so I am most comfortable performing tasks with this. However, with my university modules I have learnt how to code using Python, HTML and CSS.
Thus far I have enjoyed my apprenticeship because there is so much I have come to learn. Working at GSK has been easy in the sense that many services are provided and available to make employees have a positive working experience - at the beginning I was provided with a company laptop, headset and external monitor to aid my work. The company culture is great with core values of patient focus, integrity, respect for people and transparency. The environment is warm and open so it is easy to talk everyone. Apprentices are also treated as full-time employees and, hence, are provided with the same benefits. My apprenticeship experience so far has met my expectations, and I look forward to developing more as a person, as well as contributing towards meeting the company goals.
Upon starting my apprenticeship there was an induction week with both the company and the university. This allowed me to get to grips with how everything works and informed me of what events/modules there would be across the 4 years. From the beginning I was introduced to my line manager and had daily meetings with her. I was also provided with a mentor within the company (a masters student on a different apprenticeship), a buddy within the company (a student doing the same course as me but one year above) and a personal tutor from the university. The first month or two was allocated for training. During this time I learnt how to use certain tools and applications I would be using as well as how to code using R. I also did some online coding courses are part of self development. Subsequent to this period I joined my manager on a project where I put my learning into practice and did some data cleaning. With regards to team hierarchy, within my team are some IP students, my line manager and her colleagues and then my manager's manager. Many teams of this structure form the Biostatistics department under Pharma R&D. Some colleagues are placed in teams long-term while others are temporary. The programme structure, though not perfect, is well organised. My experiences in the company have been great and I have not faced any issues or problems; should any arise I am comfortable talking to my line manager about it. As I am currently working from home, I spend 4 days doing GSK work from home and 1 day doing university work. The university side of things is structured such that one module spans over roughly 12 weeks, with lectures each with and a graded assignment at the end - for the first year.
My employer provides sufficient support with services available for mental health and well-being, company perks (access to discounts from certain retailers), etc. There is also a corporate version of facebook called workplace where employees can interact with like-minded people, network, share updates and interests and ask questions. My first point of contact for any issues is my line manager who is very supportive in providing advice, links, and resources. For anything HR related I have the option to talk to the apprentice programme manager. For anything university related I can ask my mentor/buddy or fellow apprentices.
My manager is quite supportive and helps where she can. From my university there isn't the same level of support, however I do have the option to email my module tutor, personal tutor or course tutor with any questions I may have. If I don't understand something from my lectures I can schedule a meeting my module tutor.
My university content has not directly impacted my performance at my company yet as I have not completed loads of modules yet. However, I can certainly see how my university content provides more context and insight into how and why certain things work. It also introduces me to new areas of learning and develops transferable skills which can be applied in my role when working for my company.
Networking events take place throughout the year. Updates about any new events are usually sent via email or you can check the workplace website. You may also find invites to meetings on Microsoft Teams. Opportunities for external engagement also are presented via email. There are also events specific for apprentices where you get to socialise with the others and find out more about what other people do.
GSK provides a welcoming and accommodating working environment. You can always find support and there are many services available. The company culture is really good, and the values of transparency and respect make it easy to talk to people and ask questions if you have any. Colleagues are quite supportive too and are usually happy to help out.
My application process consisted of an online application (entering personal details, academic achievements and answering 2-3 questions), an online assessment (questions assessing your understanding of company values and determining whether your character fits in with the company criteria), and an online assessment centre (strengths-based interview with different people, mathematical questions and talking through your thought process, delivering a short presentation). Note that my assessment centre differs from the norm - was held online and didn't consist of a group activity as it was during the start of the covid-19 pandemic. I highly recommend researching the company and making sure you understand their core values. It would also be a good idea to come up with answers which correlate with the company values and are in the STAR format (research online for examples). Work experience and other achievements are always a plus but make sure you also mention how it is relevant to the role you are applying for. If I were to give advice to some applying to GSK I would say take your time when writing your answers, read each question carefully and just be yourself. It's okay to be nervous but don't let that hold you back from talking about yourself and your achievements.