My Industrial Placement Year – what new skills have I gained?

Laura Riggall recently completed an industrial placement year with GSK. In this post she outlines how the placement helped her to develop many key employability skills and experiences.

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Having recently completed an industrial placement year, I can honestly say it was a fantastic year for personal and professional development. I was based on a laboratory placement at GlaxoSmithKline within the Investigative Preclinical Toxicology (IPT) department in Safety Assessment, at GSK’s Ware R&D site in Hertfordshire, and in this post I hope to highlight to you the benefits of completing a placement year based on my own experiences.

General Skills

Throughout my IP year I was constantly able to develop key general skills that companies and institutions look for in a candidate, including presentation, communication, time management, planning and organisational skills, as well as team working and working independently.

Laboratory Skills

Every laboratory technique I used to complete my project was completely new to me. As I was based in toxicology in pharmaceuticals, this was a brand new area of science away from university and so I was required to learn a new repertoire of techniques. The techniques were heavily molecular biology based, and as a medical sciences student, these are not techniques that I had encountered during my degree laboratory sessions. Although I had to learn these new techniques, including laser capture microdissection, RNA handling and PCR, I have now added so many new techniques to my skill set.


If you ever have the opportunity to contribute to or write a scientific paper, or create and present a scientific poster, then take that opportunity, as it really does add something else to your CV. Whilst at GSK I contributed to a poster on gene therapy, and presented two posters of my own research, one internally and a second externally at a toxicology conference. Not only did I improve my confidence, I networked, gained exposure for my research, and have supported my application for further study.


Networking is key for meeting professionals and making contacts for future work or study. Whilst at GSK I networked at internal and external events, talking about my research and my intentions to pursue a PhD. Following on from these initial discussions, I had several meetings with managers regarding applying for PhDs and have gained vital knowledge regarding future careers in pharmaceuticals, and I am now kept in the loop for upcoming opportunities.


A year in industry is fantastic for participating in extracurricular activities different to any you may have so far experienced. I acted as a Science Ambassador at GSK encouraging school and A-level students to pursue careers in science, and was elected as a trustee of a local disabled children’s charity, just a few activities I was able to participate in. I look back on these as brilliant experiences that have not only allowed me to meet new people and make new friends, but they have improved my public speaking and leadership skills.


Overall a year in industry is an exceptional opportunity to dramatically build on key skills and participate in new experiences to improve knowledge and awareness of the role, company and industry. My year at GSK has fulfilled all of the aforementioned, and I feel confident for my final year, PhD applications, and beyond. To conclude, all students should consider a year in industry if they have the option; not only will it give you invaluable experience and the opportunity to meet new people, it will greatly boost your graduate and further study applications.

If you would like help finding a work placement or work experience, or reflecting on the skills you’ve developed during your experience, check out our website or talk to us

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Filed under Develop your employability, Work Experience

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