This review was submitted over 4 years ago, so some of the information it contains may no longer be relevant.
I think it is safe to say I enjoyed this placement a great deal more than I was expecting. The job was interesting and varied, besides my more standard roles there were some genuinely exciting opportunities! The people all over the site were friendly and approachable, with enough people that you could work with a variety of different teams over the placement but not so many that I felt lost.
Even with a relatively small amount of people in the department, the first few days are daunting as you start to learn who people are and what they do. But very quickly I began to feel like part of the team, as you get many chances to show what you can do. Working with different people meant that I could find out what my strengths and weaknesses were, and my contributions to projects felt much appreciated.
Lubrizol is a little different to other placements I think, as each student gets a supervisor, manager and mentor assigned to them. I worked closely with my supervisor everyday as he taught me about the job role, with a great deal of helpful guidance from my manager about opportunities that may interest me. My mentor was there as a contact outside of my team, to help with any queries if I preferred not to ask my team directly.
At first I wasn't very busy at all, but there was a huge amount to learn about role so this was probably deliberate. I had time to shadow colleagues for a day or two before taking on jobs of my own. The workload varied up and town depending on how busy the department was, but I was never sat with nothing to do. When it got busy it was hard work, but when the team worked with you and gave the support you needed, it was never overwhelming.
I got given some responsibility at the start, more than I expected as a student but no so much it became a burden. As I got more settled into the role it was possible to earn more responsibility if I wanted it, which really helped me to feel like I fitted in. There are some things that I wasn't allowed to do as a student, but such responsibilities were very infrequent and well explained so I knew why that decision had been made.
Although the job role was very versatile, the technical knowledge I gained was quite specific to the work I was doing. When I'm back at university there are definitely a few modules where my experience will prove invaluable, but not all of them are relevant to what I have been working with this year. On a personal level, I have learnt a huge amount about the business and have gained several abilities, in particular improved communication and presentation skills.
I shared an office with just two colleagues, but this meant it was much easier to have conversations and ask questions when I needed to. The radio was often on, and when I got to know the people in the department a little better there was plenty of friendly banter! There was plenty of work to be done so I wasn't always sat in the office, as I was always moving around various places in the department as part of the role.
I was the first person to fill my particular student job role, but I didn't find it as difficult as you'd expect to get to grips with what was expected of me. The application process was straight forward and fair, contact information was provided very early on in case I had any problems or concerns. When I started the job the first week was set up as an induction week, so I was given plenty of support and introduced to key members of the department. If I had a particular interest in a project, even if it was outside of my job role, every effort was made so that I could be as involved as possible. This enabled me to take away as much as possible from the placement, and make the most of my time with the company.
Almost all of the training I had was on the job training, working with experienced colleagues. This taught me a huge amount of technical knowledge, but if there was any gaps where I didn't understand I also had a huge amount of other learning resources made available to me. I was never expected to know everything, but if I was had an interest in something I was encouraged to learn about it so that my input could further benefit the team. I was then occasionally challenged with tasks such as presentations, where I was given constructive feedback about my technique and content so that I could constantly improve.
Sports and Social Club
Nearing the end of your placements all of the students are invited to a presentation made by the company about future employment options for students. This gave a good opportunity to ask about any roles on site you may be interested in applying for one day, even if they were different to the role of you placement. However, despite previously taking on several ex-placement students after they have graduated, there is no formal graduate scheme on offer. Students must apply for full time roles but this can mean they compete with industry experts with many years experience. Job vacancies are advertised as required, so there is no guarantee that the job you want will be available when you want it.
As soon as you get through the application process, you get the option to share contact details with other placement students to help organise living arrangements. This meant that I knew a little bit about some of the other students even before the placement began, and each year many of the students actually live together. The students stayed in contact throughout the year to organise events. Chances of meeting your colleagues outside of work really depends on your department, but often each department will arrange its own social events that are open to everyone.
The living costs are very reasonable around Derby, considering you are so close to a city. It was possible to save even more money by house sharing with other students, as you can then car share and reduce the cost of the commute. Several of these houses are reserved for Lubrizol students, and the details are provided to you. I chose to live with my girlfriend, but could still afford a place of my own and go on nights out when I wanted.
Derby isn't the biggest city, but this was quite nice if you wanted to go out for a few drinks. It was small enough that you could safely get around on foot quite easily, but had a balance of clubs, bars, restaurants and pubs. There was also good transport links with nearby towns if you wanted to go somewhere different and a direct bus link between Derby and Nottingham if you wanted. Buses run quite late, especially on Friday/Saturday night, so you can always get home when you need to.
I was encouraged to get involved with the sports and social club as soon as I arrived, as students get a discount. This meant I would get many emails about upcoming events outside of work where members could get heavily discounted or free tickets. For someone new to the area this gave me a chance to see what activities were available and try new things. There was a huge variation of different sports and social events on offer, and there was no limit on how many or how few you could get involved in.
Placement Year (10 Months+)
18th September 2015