When I came across the Biostatistics programme at GSK I was immediately drawn to it and the idea of helping people around the world feel better and live longer so I decided to apply for a placement year in the pharma industry.
What was your typical day like on placement: what tasks did you perform, who did you work with?
My day to day work varied depending on what projects I was working on. In the beginning of my placement I had a lot of training to do and was usually given smaller tasks to complete related to my role. After that I had the opportunity to work on various projects and support co-workers across my disease area. I was often given tasks that involved coding is SAS, which I hadn’t used before but had a course on at the beginning of my placement. I also chaired my team’s bi-weekly dashboard meetings and presented in front of different audiences.
Completing project work took up most of my day but I had the opportunity to get involved in a lot of non-project work as well. I signed up to be a STEM ambassador, which involved a lot of volunteering opportunities one can take part in, I got involved in helping biostatisticians with statistics courses for non-statisticians in GSK and I was also part of a team that made sustainability campaigns.
How have your soft/technical skills developed throughout your placement?
During my placement one of my main goals related to soft skills was to improve my communication skills and I had various opportunities to do that. My time management and organisational skills have improved as well as I had to learn how to work on different tasks on the same day and prioritise work.
I was also able to work with a new language SAS, improve my R and Excel skills and learn to use different statistical models (some of which I hadn’t heard of before) such as MMRM, ANOVA.
Would you recommend a placement year, and do you have any tips for students thinking of doing one?
I would definitely recommend a placement year! This has been an invaluable experience for me! I’ve developed and improved a lot of my skills, I was able to network with different people and learn about the variety of roles in GSK and I definitely feel prepared for life after university.
My tip for future placement students is that they take every opportunity and get involved as much as possible in both project and non-project work. Every task that I have done, small or big, has helped me improve in some way.