Temple alum Damara Donovan (Class of 2018) recently began her career at GlaxoSmithKline, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies. With a large campus located in the Navy Yard, GSK hires many Temple students and alumni of all majors for full-time jobs and internships. Damara shared with us a little more background about how Temple prepared her for life at GSK, why she enjoys working there, and some advice for current Temple students…
When did you graduate?
I graduated May 2018.
What was your Major?
I studied HR and Strategic Communications in Organizational Leadership
Did you have any internship experience prior to graduation?
I knew I wanted to work in the human resources field, so I aimed to find internships in that industry, but was open-minded to other related fields. As a result, I completed three internships prior to graduation. As a sophomore, I interned at The American Red Cross working alongside the senior HR manager. After that internship was completed, I switched gears to work in Strategic Marketing at a local firm in my hometown. I gained even more cross functional skills in marketing that could easily be used in the HR field. The summer before my senior year, I began interning at AmerisourceBergen Corporation in an HR rotational program until I graduated.
What is your current job function at GSK?
I am currently in GSK’s Future Leaders Program (FLP). It is a three-year HR rotational program for recent college graduates that aims to develop early talent to become successful business leaders within GSK. I am currently on my first rotation and I help support GSK’s Global HR Functions.
What does a typical day entail?
GSK is a global company, so I find myself working with people from around the world! As soon as I started at GSK I was placed in challenging multifaceted HR projects. A typical day may entail collaborative meetings with colleagues in the UK or working closely with my team to complete a project. At GSK I am treated as an equal and I am always encouraged to speak up and share my ideas, which allows me to learn more about the business and gain a broader perspective of HR at GSK. Regardless of the task I am working on, I feel fully supported by my colleagues and know that if I have any questions, someone is always willing to answer them!
How did you find out about this opportunity? (Online, referral, through your school/college, etc.)
I was a member of Temple University’s SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) chapter and received an email about a post-graduate HR opportunity at GSK. I was immediately interested and attended the session where I met recruiters and learned more about the business.
What is the most important thing you’ve learned during your job search and interview process?
Check your email every day! I know most students aren’t checking their university email, but they should. If I hadn’t checked my email that day, I would have missed the reminder about a possible job opportunity with GSK from SHRM and missed out on working at such an amazing company! While you are job searching and applying to jobs, always make sure you are checking both your school and personal email for recruiters reaching out to you. I regularly received emails from various student groups and even my professors about possible jobs. Another piece of advice would be to have a good internet presence. Google yourself and determine if what pops up is positive or negative. Most of my internships and work-related endeavors started from a recruiter messaging me on LinkedIn and personally inviting me to apply to a job position.
What piece of advice would you give to current students embarking on an internship/job search?
I would advise current students to do three main things: build a solid network, gain experience, and participate in student professional organizations at school. Building a solid network requires more than just adding someone on LinkedIn. It involves setting up meetings with the person you want to connect with and conducting your own interviews to learn about their specific role or gaining industry insight about your chosen profession. If you find it daunting connecting with professionals, your student professional organization can help with that! In SHRM, I was able to attend panel sessions where I met recruiters from various businesses and network with future employers. Professional groups at school also offer opportunities to join competitions and projects within your chosen field and gain experience to build your resume, which allows you to be a competitive candidate when applying to jobs. Gaining experience through interning or student organizations helps you stand out as a candidate and lands you interviews. During the interview process at GSK, I was able to talk about projects I completed from various internships and student groups I was a part of. From there I showcased skills I developed and how it would enable me to be a great fit for the role I was applying for. I truly believe building a solid network, gaining experience, and participating in student professional organizations at school aid students in their job search and help them land jobs!
What do you enjoy most about working at GSK?
I absolutely love GSK’s culture! We have a collaborative environment, emphasized by what we call, a SMART workplace office. All our offices have an open floorplan which encourages greater transparency and teamwork, which enables a new collaborative, responsive and fast-moving culture. I can sit anywhere I like because there are no cubicles and network with anyone in GSK no matter what department they are in, even high-level seniors within the company! The sense of community at GSK is something I’ve never experienced anywhere else and it makes me enjoy coming into work every day!
What can you tell students about GSK that they likely don’t know from checking out the Careers page?
While I was researching GSK before applying to the company, the Careers page showed me that I would be challenged in my field and work with some of the best minds in the industry. That led me to believe that GSK one of the global leaders in the industry, and as a result, I thought it would be a typical corporate office with a strict professional atmosphere. However, working at the company has shown me the complete opposite. Everyone here is so supportive and friendly and dedicated to their work. I quickly formed great relationships with my colleagues, not just in the US but around the world while gaining a better appreciation for HR and the work we do at GSK.