Portrait image of microbiology student, Jade

December 14, 2021, by Leah Sharpe

Finished a Year in Industry – What Next?

By Jade Brewster-Mahon, microbiology student

Since my previous careers blog post on assessment centres where I outlined my placement application process, I have finished my placement year at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in Pharmaceutical Microbiology. Throughout the placement, I consistently questioned what it is I wanted to get from the year regarding graduate opportunities. There are so many different types. Through networking with different departments, I realised that there were only two that really stood out to me.

1. Direct entry role – Permanent entry-level job based in the department of interest.

2. Graduate programme – Rotational programme around a sector of the business usually two or more years long that puts you in a strong position to secure a permanent role once the programme completes.

The timeframe for the application process varied. Graduate programmes tend to conduct interviews a year in advance, while direct entry roles become available when there are vacancies. The uncertainty in the availability of direct entry roles prompted me to apply for the GSK graduate programme. As an internal candidate, I was able to receive a reference from my line manager which accelerated my application to the automated interview step and assessment centre.

Assessment Centre

I was fortunate to get to the final assessment centre stage of the application process. This involved:

1. A presentation on my motivations for applying and suitability to the role.

2. Role play which is an exercise that uses potential real-life experiences associated with the role.

3. A competency-based interview where each question targeted a skill required for the job.

With four candidates and only one position, I just missed out on securing the role. However, during the feedback call, I was delighted to find out that the recruitment team sought out a direct entry role that would start once I graduated. I was told that a combination of performing highly at the assessment centre and the networking I did while on placement, meant that when my name was put forward the head of the department felt I would be a good fit for their team.

For me, rejection meant redirection. Had I not applied for the graduate programme, maybe I wouldn’t have been put forward for this role. Graduate programmes are one path but not the only path!

Key learnings

Network – Reaching out to different departments allows you to gain visibility in areas of the business that you’ve never come across before and get your name out there.

Ask for feedback – This allows you to identify your strengths and weaknesses while on the job. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day of working so consistently making an effort to improve is very important.

Push your limits – A year in industry is just that a year which can go so quickly, so making the most of all the opportunities that come your way is crucial in equally learning more about yourself in terms of what you can see yourself doing as a future career and learning more about the industry.

Good luck with your job searches!

Take a look at the different graduate opportunities on the Careers website including direct entry roles, training schemes, and internships. 

Posted in Choosing Your CareerGraduate VacanciesStudent BloggersWork experience