My placement year at GlaxoSmithKline

By Lauren Maddock


I did not begin my degree with the intention to complete a Placement year but decided during my second year that it would be a great development opportunity whilst also trialling a career area I was interested in. I am a Psychology undergraduate and so felt that a HR programme would best align to my degree and specifically my career aspirations. I began researching which companies offered Industrial Placement (IP) programmes and completed online applications for the top three that I felt best aligned to my values and what I wanted from a placement.

Lauren Maddock

Lauren Maddock

The online applications were all fairly similar, typically including basic information about you and your education history, your CV and long (500ish words) answer questions about why you want to apply and how your degree relates to the programme. If the application form was successful you may be asked to complete short online tests that assess numeracy skills and verbal reasoning. Fortunately these went well and I was later invited to attend an Assessment Centre at GSK. A week prior we were sent a problem to solve and instructions to prepare a presentation on our solution. On the day we were given some information about the programme and a tour of the building before having a competency based interview and doing the presentations. Regardless of the outcome, attending days like this are a great chance to build confidence and may help prepare you for any future interviews.

I began my placement in June 2015 and am working as a HR IP student embedded in the Global Finance Capabilities team at GSK in Brentford. Primarily, we identify essential capabilities for Finance and design, propose and implement various development offerings to improve these. My role involves

supporting the various technical and behavioural development opportunities we have for Finance, including Self-Assessment tools and module webinars. I am also working with the team to create a new offering which is being designed in response to an ask for more technical support, identified in our global survey. In addition, I create quarterly newsletters for the 3000+ global Finance employees and also more informal audio blogs/ videos to give the population regular updates.

Outside of my role I have also volunteered with Talent Recruitment teams, an area I am particularly interested in, helping to prepare and facilitate various graduate Assessment Centres. It has been really interesting learning about what goes on behind the scenes for these events and what measures the candidates are assessed against. Additionally, I work with the communications team for IP Unite, a student run community that simply unites IPs across the UK sites. Within this I lead a sub-team which has helped develop my leadership and delegation skills. There are also regular ‘lunch and learn’ sessions which introduce the different areas of HR in GSK. These have really opened my eyes to the breadth of opportunity within Human

GSK Building

GSK Building

Resources and made me excited to start exploring future career options in this space. I have also volunteered with some of GSK’s external charity partners on a number of various events. These include working with charity Spark! in local schools running mock interviews and networking events with young people and supporting the launch event for GSK’s new partnership with Comic Relief.

My HR placement at GSK has been an incredible experience. I have been able to develop key business skills, network with industry professionals and gain a breadth of HR and business knowledge. The opportunity has elevated my employability and given me the confidence and motivation to exploit my full potential. I would definitely recommend a placement to anyone who is keen to stretch themselves and is looking for both professional and personal development.


If you would like to find out more about placements for 2nd year students and how to apply, please come to the placement talk on Wednesday 3 February in the lecture theatre of Chichester 1 at 3pm. Sussex Partnership Trust Reps and current psychology students in placements will be answering questions.

The Career & Employability Centre has also a placement preparation programme. For more information go to the placements’ webpage

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  1. […] If you are interested in doing a placement, you can also read about Lauren Maddock’s experience working for GSK. […]

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