Work Experience Case Study: Pamela Forbes

Personal details
Degree:MA Classical Studies .
School(s): School of Classics
Year of Graduation:Jun-2013
National of: United Kingdom
Employment details
Organisation: The Saltire Foundation / GlaxoSmithKline
Job title: Marketing and Communications Intern
Occupational Sector: Marketing
How did you find out about the opportunity ?
A friend told me about the opportunities provided by the Saltire Foundation and so I then attended an information session held by Saltire at the university to get more information and to listen to first hand experiences.
How did you apply ?
The application process began by completing an online application form around November time. I was then chosen to go through to the next stage which was a face to face quickfire interview in Dundee with both a previous Saltire Scholar and a member of the Saltire foundation. After this, I then progressed to the next round where I was given a list of the internships on offer. I then applied in writing to  be put forward for a phone interview with two companies and I then had a phone interview with one. After failing to get  through this time I then had another interview which again I was not successfully in. I was then invited down to the Lake District to have a face to face interview at GlaxoSmithKline and this was the internship I was successful in attaining.
How were you selected ?
A whole mix of different interviewing techniques which has prepared me well for applying to graduate jobs:
  • Online written application (answering set questions)
  • Quickfire face-to-face interview with both a previous scholar and a member of Saltire answering preset questions
  • Phone interview - the first time I had done this and great experience
  • Another face-to-face interview in the Lake District
Why were you successful?
I am quite a well rounded person and so, as well as doing well academically, I have had a range of part time jobs, work experience and volunteering opportunities. 

As well as this, I did a lot of research into both the Saltire foundation and the host companies I was applying to. Having good background knowledge about companies you are applying to is essential in the application process.

I was also passionate about helping Saltire and Scotland in general. I believed in Saltire's ambitions and so when asked questions regarding how I would give back, I had already thought about it and was truthful in my replies. Anything you apply to you have to be completely passionate about or your lack of enthusiasm won't come across!

I am also a driven and ambitious individual and was able to show my interest in learning knew things throughout the application process.
What skills/ knowledge from your degree have you found particularly helpful in this role?
I did some writing as part of the brochure I was asked to make for the site and so the written skills I had developed through my essay writing for Classical Studies helped me in this role.

I also did modules in art history in first and second year and I found, when presenting to senior members within the site, that having done some presenting before, I was a little bit more comfortable in this role.

However, a lot of the skills I utilised while at Glaxo were either newly developing or were gained from activities outside of classes - eg communication skills I had developed through being in societies and through part time jobs.
What have you been doing?
My internship ran for 10 weeks and I worked Mon-Fri 8.30am-5pm. The main objective during that time was to complete a site brochure, promoting the site to visitors and third party customers.To do this, I had meetings with the different departments on site and came into contact with both the administrative side of the business and the more manual. I also had to check everything I was doing with the commercial lead at the site as well liaising with the communications teams at GSK House in London. I also had to compare design companies to see who would be the most efficient, and after doing this, I then had to liaise with them on the final product design and price.

I also developed webpages which promoted the site to the internal GSK network. This involved learning new computer skills and creating a basis from which the site could work from after I had left. I created pages for each of the different departments which gave a brief description of what that area did and provided a short video to make it a bit more personable.

I was also given the opportunity to do many little mini projects while at GSK. I organised and took part in an Orange Day - a group of GSK employees volunteered in the local community by helping to paint the local guide hall and make the garden area more accessible. I had to organise both people and resources and upon seeing the finished product and knowing how much we had helped, everyone was very proud of what we had achieved!

I also had the opportunity to go out with the sales team for the day in Blackpool, visit the site at Irvine and shadow the HR department for the day. I was also introduced to new ways of thinking by the Operational Excellence department and was able to put a 5S strategy to work on the kitchen area!

Overall, I was given flexibility within my internship to pursue my own interests (including climbing up a 100ft solvent recovery tower!), as well as completing set out objectives.
What are the main things you have gained from this experience?
My actual internship helped me develop so many essential skills - from communicating with different people to time management and more manual skills such as web development. I was given the opportunity to learn so much about both the general business world and the pharmaceutical industry.

My confidence in my own abilities has grown extraordinarily since my internship! The sense of pride you have when seeing the finished product is amazing!

Through the Saltire Foundation I have also gained a lot! The support given to you after your internship is amazing. It includes networking events where you can meet some absolutely fantastic and influential people, as well as being given the authority and initiative to create your own projects. I currently now head up a group named Inspiring Scotland's Future, under the Saltire Foundation which aims to inspire young people to realise their full potential.

The internship you can gain through Saltire isn't just work experience, it is about developing yourself as an individual!