“GSK Unlocked helped me work out what the right career path is for me - it’s an invaluable experience for students looking for personal and professional development.”
Veron Sundaram is a final year Chemical Engineering student at Queen Mary University and recently completed the GSK Unlocked Programme. He’s had an overwhelmingly positive experience on the programme, and as a result has discovered a clear direction for his future.
Tell us about yourself and about how you came to be involved in GSK Unlocked
I was born and brought up in Coventry and went to a local state school in the area. I did sciences at A-level and am now studying Chemical Engineering at Queen Mary University in London where I’m in my final year.
I heard about the GSK Unlocked programme through University friends who had taken part in the programme. It really appealed to me because of the development and coaching aspects — at the time I was really unsure of a path after university, so was looking for some guidance.
How would you describe the programme?
GSK Unlocked is the perfect programme for university students to develop both professionally and personally, with the help from industry experts (coaches) and your buddy.
What were your expectations ahead of the experience?
I wanted to gain more of an understanding about what skills you need to be hired by a big company like GSK, while also working on my own personal and career development. I have always been reluctant to present in front of large crowds of people as I wasn’t confident enough, and this is something I really wanted to work on during the programme
And how did the programme compare with those expectations?
The programme exceeded my expectations. The sessions on courage, teamwork, accountability and development really helped me develop these skills at university and in my personal life.
I had never had a coach before, so initially I thought that conversations with them would be intense. But through me just being open about what I wanted to work on and just being myself I realised after connecting on a personal level that we were very similar. My coach really helped me get out of my comfort zone, pushed me to do things differently and we set actions together to make sure I progressed.
What did you gain most from taking part in the experience — both personally and in terms of your professional/career development
My coach really helped me identify my strengths and how to take time out to reflect on what I do well. The process has made me more confident in my own abilities, particularly around speaking in public. At the Celebration Event I put this into practice and faced up to a big fear of mine by presenting on my experience at GSK. That’s something I never thought I’d have been able to do before and now feel like I get much more out of group discussions at university because I’m no longer scared to speak up.
What would you say to your peers about GSK and your experience working with the company?
GSK is committed to diversity and inclusion and working with groups from less fortunate backgrounds to give them an opportunity to develop. The buddy and coach mentoring scheme is invaluable and helps you realise your potential. I would urge all university students to apply.
What are your thoughts on the Arrival programme?
It was amazing. The team there have gone above and beyond to deliver a thoughtful and engaging experience. They have been so supportive ever since the interview, regularly checking in and encouraging me to apply for a range of opportunities and schemes. Even though it’s been a few months since the programme ended they still reach out to find out how we are doing.
How has being part of this programme had an impact on your future career plans?
Before the programme I was set on a career in the chemical engineering field, but during the programme I began to realise that my passion was in software development and devops. Since then I have taken courses to upskill and improve my chances of landing a job in this field.
Switching career paths in your very last year at university can be daunting without any help or guidance but my GSK buddy was great and even helped me prepare cover letters and application questions. I’m pleased to say I’ve had quite a few interviews too.