GSK House, Brentford, UK. The main headquarters of GSK operations. Photo by Adam Khan-Qureshi.
On the 16th April 2019, I was among the few lucky candidates selected to be invited to attend the ‘GSK Revealed: STEM’ event hosted by GlaxoSmithKlein (GSK), one of the largest biopharma companies in the world! To give some context – this was an event designed to provide first year undergraduates pursuing STEM related degrees with an insight into working at GSK and the possible undergraduate and postgraduate opportunities that are available for current undergraduate students.
I decided to apply to GSK Revealed because I am interested in a variety of disciplines within biopharma, especially those pertaining to Research and Development (R&D) and the clinical phases of drug development. Not only that, participation in such an event could provide me with valuable insight into a possible career pathway. The first stage in this application process needed to attend the event was to complete a form answering questions about my motivations, aspirations and values – to see if I would fit into the working ethos of GSK. After multiple redrafts, I sent off my completed application and after weeks of anticipation I received an email stating my application was successful! I was thrilled with the response and was very excited about going, yet at the same time was unsure about what to expect…
After a lengthy commute I finally arrived in Brentford, London where the company headquarters, dubbed the ‘GSK House’, is located. From the outskirts, the building was extremely impressive and large, and I walked in eager to learn more about GSK! After receiving my visitor’s lanyard (which made it all feel very official) we were all sent to a conference room filling up with other successful invitees. Then, once all were seated, the event began!
We started off with brief introductions and icebreakers, which allowed me to meet other undergraduates from all across the UK, studying different disciplines of STEM from Chemical Engineering to Pharmacology to Computer Science to many, many more. As the day progressed, we participated in a variety of different activities and talks held by a few of the many GSK interns and employees. Many of these talks revolved around the company’s portfolio, life working at GSK and possible employment routes.
During the day, we were split into subgroups of around 5 to 6 people to complete team work exercises. Once these exercises were completed, the larger group reformed and we were all given some application tips regarding placement applications and graduate schemes. I found that, even before attending, it was clear GSK really emphasised a best-fit approach to employee recruitment. Previously, I had learnt that whilst the academic profile makes up a small part of a candidate’s application, companies like GSK generally focus more on each applicant holistically, yet this fact was really emphasised during the event. The unique qualities each applicant can bring to a company is one – if not the – most important factor employers consider when hiring job candidates besides of course the usual background checks. Learning this has made me reflect further about how I can be a well-rounded applicant and reflect on areas I, personally, must improve upon. Finally, as the day came to a close, we toured the GSK House and were given the opportunity to ask any unanswered questions to the hosts of the event.
My favourite aspect of the day was the time we spent ‘speed networking’, where each attendee got the chance to speak with current placement students and graduates working across multiple departments in GSK. As you might expect, this networking did seem quite intimidating at first, but soon, it became much less daunting and I learned so much about the vast opportunities within STEM. For example, I got to meet with STEM placement students who decided to go into Medical Affairs, Human Resources or Finance and Business. Speaking with this diverse array of students really opened my eyes as to how I could be involved in the field of STEM without pursuing a career in research. Although I found the research placements rather interesting, the time I spent speed networking has helped me grow to be more aware and intrigued by the lesser-known employment routes available to STEM students that have just completed their undergraduate studies.
There a few take-home messages I would like to share. Firstly, I highly recommend getting involved in as many STEM opportunities as possible! While not everyone may have the chance to attend something like ‘GSK: Revealed’, there are bound to be countless other opportunities for those that take the time to search for them. So many opportunities await – whether they come in the form of conducting research at a local college, attending a scientific conference, or even just taking a bit of time to read about STEM subjects that are interesting. Remember, there is no harm in sending an application – after all, you never know what will come out of it! With that in mind, networking is so important in our modern society. By attending events such as GSK Revealed, a person can make incredibly valuable connections and forge long-term investments into their future. STEM is such an incredible field – there are just so many opportunities to get involved in, most of which are hidden just below the surface, waiting to be found.
About the Author
Adam Khan-Qureshi, UK
Adam is a Biochemistry student at the University of Warwick and the Executive Research Editor for YSJ. He is pursuing a research-led career in order to play an active role in understanding the foundations of human health and disease. When he is not in the lab for countless hours doing continuous protein assays, he is often found geeking out over the next Marvel film!