During the summer, I was fortunate enough to gain a placement at the Research and Development site at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). Here I worked closely with the inhalation team that consisted of working alongside chemists, analysts and even engineers. My work involved looking at the effect of insertion angle on aerosol deposition of many different types of inhalers. Majority of my time was spent in the lab, where I had the opportunity to work with a wide range of equipment including: HPLC, E-lung and a new generation impactor.

I was lucky enough to have a tour around the sterile labs; they contained many machines including capsule filling and different types of coating machines. It was interesting to observe the way the machines worked and see how all that we had learned in our drug development lectures on granulation and tabletting were put into practice. It became evident that a great knowledge in the formulation of drug was essential and I found myself reciting old notes in my head during the tour. What I enjoyed the most about industry was the flexibility available when working there. The company trusts you to complete the required work in the time they set, but they leave how you do this work entirely up to you. Additionally, everyone is friendly in industry and working in a diverse group and attending multi-disciplinary meetings allows you to find out what each member of the team’s area of expertise is and so you know who to go to if you have an issue. Another great thing about working in industry was that there were many activities you can get involved in. Activities included canoeing, rock climbing, gym, badminton and many more. This allowed you to get to know other colleagues from different departments, remain active, relax from work and also have some fun.

At first, I felt that there were no pharmacists in industry, but after speaking to several people I came to realise that industry was full of pharmacists in almost every team. Near the end of my placement it became clear to me that with a degree in pharmacy the possibilities were endless. You could work as a formulator, qualified person or even a patent attorney. I also discovered that there were numerous roles available within industry itself and there were many opportunities within GSK.

In order to gain a summer placement at GSK you simply apply online via the GSK careers website and send them your CV and cover letter. It is important to include only relevant information in both of these; this includes relevant experience, what university you attend and A-level results. In your cover letter you should focus on why you want a summer placement at industry, what skills you have to offer, and provide examples of a time where you have used each of these skills. The different locations where you could be placed are Essex, Hertfordshire, Harlow, Ware or Stevenage. The closing date is usually around April so it is important to keep referring back to the website for more details. If selected, you will be shortlisted for an interview whereby you will be required to answer a series of questions including technical questions. Examples include; explaining the method behind making tablets, the different types of machines used and what factors need to be considered when making tablets. The placement is a chance for you to gain an insight into the industrial world and during your placement you will be able to attend many study days, training sessions and meet new people. It is also important to use any contacts and links you may have with people working within industry, even if it is to shadow a team for a couple of days, this will help you greatly and be advantageous when it comes to applying for pre-reg.