Global Challenge: GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Morocco – William Preston

Week 1

With my final exam finishing on Thursday afternoon, I rushed back to try and move out of my Selly Oak cave, before my begrudging lift home arrived (in the form of my dad). Having only had one day to organise and hopelessly pack for the next 8 weeks, I checked in at Heathrow Saturday afternoon. Upon arrival, I was delighted to find that a system error meant my name was incorrect – however, after sheepishly handing over my mismatched boarding pass and passport at the gate, I was off!

After a somewhat eventful taxi journey, I arrived at my apartment.

The next morning I proceeded to try and do some food shopping. A local man, who on gathering I was from England seemed to forego the use of the barcode scanner and compute the prices himself – I was charged somewhere in the region of £30 for water, bread, and milk.

After an imaginably bleak dinner, given my limited shopping experience, I settled down to contemplate my new surroundings. My concluding thoughts on my first 24 hours are as follows:

• I must source a barcode scanning supermarket.

office view  Office View

The next day I woke up early, and hobbled to work in an unsuccessful attempt to minimise my blister accumulation – thanks to my new shoes. Arriving at work was a relief in many ways; not only because I was able to talk to people in English at last. Firstly, I was introduced to the department who were incredibly welcoming, and I was given a particularly nice office. I then met two other interns, from Casablanca and neighbouring Rabat respectfully. We had a very amusing chat about my culture-shock moments so far and they gave me tips about living here whilst we ate lunch. After work, my colleague showed me a supermarket where I could buy everything I needed (and pay barcode prices). I then managed a much more successful taxi journey home and ended the day feeling a lot more settled.


Day 2, myself and my fellow interns had a presentation on GSK’s company structure, (both globally and the North African region), which was very insightful. I then spent the next few days attending brand planning meetings for various departments and getting to grips with the accounting systems used here. Day 4 and I got my company laptop. I proceeded to successfully lock myself out of the system within an hour and instigated a lengthy reset process. However, by the afternoon I was very much online and received a variety of tasks from my department director, which took me through to the end of the week.

I finished the week going for drinks with my colleague and then spent the weekend drinking mint tea and exploring the local area. I paid a visit to the famous Hassan II Mosque before facing the reality of cooking, cleaning, washing and ironing. Despite the myriad of obstacles I seem to have faced this week, I end it feeling very much at home and looking forward to the next 7!

temple 2tea

By William Preston

Global Challenge: GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Morocco – Anna Traykova

First week

I arrived at Casablanca airport on a warm Friday evening. The driver that my host had ordered for me was already waiting for me with a sign with my name. He took me to the place that I booked through the AirBnB website. My host welcomed me and made me feel very comfortable. The room was nice and clean and I had a small balcony overlooking the street. The host and his wife were very polite and nice. I had a whole weekend to explore the city before starting my internship at GSK.

Redouane at GSK had already sent me a map with instructions of how to find the office. The weekend at Casablanca was very interesting and I got the chance to walk around, meet some locals and explore. On Monday I was at the office at 9:00am. One of the HR team members came down to meet me and showed me around the office. I was sat with the other interns from Morocco. One of the team is also working with the HR team and the other two work with the Procurement and Business departments.

On the first day, I got the chance to meet most of the GSK employees and to introduce myself. On Tuesday my laptop was waiting for me and I had a meeting with the other HR intern and one of the HR team members from Singapore. He divided the tasks in two and gave us two common projects to work on together.

I and Taha (the HR intern) have to help with the organisation of an assessment day at the end of July and also to help organise a charity event at the office. My individual project is focused on improving the available information for the local market and updating the database of the HR team. On my second day I was also introduced to the GSK intranet page where a lot of the information I will need is stored.

All interns also had to complete four e-learning courses before starting work on their individual projects. The e-learning courses were introductory courses to GSK’s policies and code of conduct and are mandatory for all employees. After completion of the courses we received certificates to show that we had completed them.

On Wednesday I had a meeting with Redouane during which, he explained a bit more about what he expects from me and what sources I can use to work on my projects. Outside of work I am exploring the city and enjoying the Moroccan cuisine which is very good and relatively cheap. So far everyone has been very welcoming and nice and I started learning a bit of Arabic. Speaking French has turned out to be extremely useful as pretty much everyone here speaks it and I already feel an improvement in my language skills. Additionally, the weather has been great – not too hot yet but just perfect! I am looking forward to the Ramadan as it will be an interesting part of the Moroccan culture and way of life!

By Anna Traykova

Global Challenge: British Consulate Chicago – Stephen Bowcott

Stephen-Bowcott1300x300Stephen Bowcott (BA History)

British Consulate internship, Chicago, USA – Global Challenge Internship Programme


Details of duties/ responsibilities/ activities

  • Worked directly with the Deputy-Consul General to promote UK-US investment as outlined within FCO policy
  • Designed, planned and attended 4 day diplomatic visit to North Dakota
  • Liaised with senior American business officials and the British-American Business Council
  • Compiled written reports on US mid-term elections and Republican Party for Consul-General
  • Attended internal and external networking events to promote Anglo-American ties within the Chicago area
  • Met with leading thinkers within the American educational world and liaised with consulates education officer to design a programme of using abandoned spaces for educational purposes. This programme has since been passed onto the Department of Business, Skills and Innovation
  • Planned, organised and carried out a Beatles themed celebratory party that was attended by over 100 people and formed the centrepiece of the ‘Britain is Great’ campaign

Main Achievements

My main achievements centred around quickly adjusting to a completely new working environment and getting used to the intricacies of working in a fast paced and challenging environment. The best and also most challenging thing about this internship was that from literally day one I was given a lot of responsibility from arranging logistics for upcoming important events to meeting with influential people within the educational and business sectors. Whether it was in writing a report for the Consul General or making sure the 50 delegates for the upcoming food security event had a place to stay I strived to achieve a good balance between the quality and speed of which I completed tasks.

My biggest achievement however without a doubt was planning and organising from scratch a four day diplomatic visit attended by myself, the Deputy Consul-General and the Chief Science Officer to North Dakota. I contacted many different organisations within the energy and aerospace sectors and arranged meeting with them. The whole event made me realise just how crucial time management and proper planning are in this line of work.

I strived to achieve a good balance between the quality and speed of which I completed tasks

Most enjoyable part of the internship

The thing I enjoyed most was the opportunity to work with some amazing people; people whose work often does not get reported but nevertheless goes a great deal in bringing prosperity, security and assistance to Britons both at home and abroad. I welcomed with open arms when I arrived and was introduced to everybody; I was given work of a challenging nature that pushed me and showed how much the consulate and the people within it wanted me to succeed. The warmth and friendship offered by my work colleagues also extended out of work hours as well. I was often invited out to lunch or to just go for a few drinks after work, I was very quickly made to feel a valued part of the team; it is this very tight knit team atmosphere that enables such great collaboration between the consulate’s different teams.Stephen-Bowcott2

I received incredible support from both the host organisation as a whole and the Deputy Consul General as my supervisor. In the first two days of my internship I had face to face meetings with the consulates education, trade and science officers. They all helped me to better understand the environment I was in and offered me advice on how to make the most of my time there. I also met the Consul-General on day four and he gave me some of his experiences of when he first joined the FCO and helped me to play the best way for me to go about making this internship into a larger career within the FCO. Meanwhile the DCG really showed his support in me by the level of responsibility I was tasked with, I am very grateful to him for making my six weeks here a great learning curve.

Skills Developed

This internship has developed two core skills that will enable me to go out into the job market with confidence and vigour. Firstly thanks to these last six weeks I am able to communicate with different people in fluid situations much better than before. Having been forced to make sure I communicated perfectly between consulate staff, travel agencies and individuals from public and private sectors in relation to the North Dakota visit I have learnt the true value of efficient and to the point communication. I have also developed my planning skills, having to plan how we wanted the different stage of our Beatles event to go and how we would maximise the use of space; given that over 100 people would be attending enabled me to see how large-scale events are put together.

How this will benefit me in the future

My experiences with this internship will be vital to my future success when applying for graduate positions, because they are exactly within the area I most want to enter. Having been given the opportunity to work for an organisation that rarely offers such internship opportunities I now possess some grounded experience that will hopefully prove to be the cutting edge between me and the numerous other fantastic candidates I will no doubt be competing against. I have also of course been able to make crucial contacts and friends within the Foreign Service sector; I plan to use their advice and support over the coming months as I embark upon the long civil service fast stream application process. Perhaps more importantly however, for the first time I have a definite idea as to what I want my future career to be. This will now enable me to apply for the opportunities I know I want to do and save me much time applying in areas I am unsure I would actually be interested in.

An all-round great internship that has taught me so much. I will strongly recommend applying to this to all my friends still at Bham.


Originally posted on Friday 6th February 2015