1. To what extent did you enjoy your work placement or internship?
I had a great time during my placement - this was mainly due to the people. The work was not overtly interesting if I am truly honest, but I was able to see many high level projects, and spend time in various departments seeing how they interlocked and what they did
The sub-manager heavily contributed to my experience - he has had 4 year in industry students previously, so he was aware of what type of things he could offer me / give me to do.
2. To what extent did you feel valued by your colleagues?
This is difficult to answer.
I did not feel as if I was not valued by my team - they did seek my help for things, but for some jobs they were very basic admin jobs that they did not want to complete themselves.
Having said that they were never condescending nor mean, but I did feel as if I was a coffee maker some of the time
Other tasks were more interesting - I helped report making, data recording etc but again I did feel as if i was supporting them in their roles, not fulfilling a personal task
But i can say i felt valued.
I attended many meetings, and worked in numerous offices, and i never once felt awkward or out of place - everyone was very welcoming and interesting to talk to
3. To what extent were you given support and guidance by management/your supervisor(s)?
Very little - there was a change of management during my year; my first manage was extremely supportive, and involved - having been the one to ask for a student
However, my second manage had very little to do with my role - we did see each other at a bi weekly meeting, but we never once had a 1-1.. I sat with a sub manager in my day-to-day role who supported me much more
But to be fair, the second manager had not previously had a student so was unsure; he also was based in Birmingham ( me in Milton Keynes ) so it was difficult for us to interact ( my first manager lived in MK)
4. How busy were you on a daily basis?
This differed throughout my time
At the start of my year, I was given many tasks, but at about April time I was looking for things to do.
I do not think this is a good depiction of the entire organisation, however, as there were many external reasons for this such as the managerial changes
I was later "adopted" by a different team, that gave me more roles and tasks to do - but i feel like this was not the way in which my placement should have been
5. How much responsibility were you given during your placement?
Again this differed
E.g. in January, I was given the role of collecting customer feedback in regard to Christmas timetable distribution - this was quite a big piece of work
In May however, I was then asked to do some filing
But again to be realistic, you can't expect to be working on fast paced, ground breaking projects all the time - this probably was a truer depiction of a real graduate job - you are used to fill the needs of the team.
6. To what extent did/will the skills you developed, and training you received, assist you in your degree studies and beyond?
It was interesting to see certain theories in practice - Network Rail itself is a highly interesting organisation due to its nature, history and industry .
In terms of skill, I feel i am better able to manage people, having seen my sub-manager dealing with team conflict and incidents.
I did not receive any formal training however having spoken to the 2 graduates also in my team, they both complete various modules at Westwood ( NR's training centre ) which is fair if i think about it - they are more likely to invest in people who are more likely to stay with the organisation on a longer term basis, then students who are potentially only there for 10 months
7. What was the general atmosphere in your office?
Very laid back
Though this was mainly due to the sub-manager
8. How well organised was the overall work placement or internship set up?
Honestly, I do not even think they knew I was coming and then it was a rush to find me a place to sit, get a laptop and something to do
All students were invited to Westwood in August to meet their managers and do some basic team building, health and safety etc . Me and one girl were the only ones who did not a manger attend
The organizers went to find out where they were; her's was on holiday and had in fact sent a deputy. Mine had cancelled to attend a meeting, and sent no one.
The whole thing was HIGHLY unorganized
9. In terms of personal training and development, to what extent did the company or firm invest in you?
I did not once have a 1-1 with my line manager despite seeing him bi-weekly
But again this was due to our lack of time together perhaps?
And they do invest in their graduates alot more - and would I want to study whilst I was doing my placement - not really
10. What were the perks on your work placement?
Working from home
11. How appealing are future employment prospects within the organisation?
I don't think nr is a bad employee; i think they are just under prepared for students - though having spoken to other students they have a 180 degree experience to me so i may be unlucky
12. Was there a good social scene amongst any fellow placement students/colleagues?
Went out with drinks/dinner with fellow students and grads quite often - though this was because we lived together in MK and were all quite social anyway
We also grabbed lunch together, but this was again as a flat - i don't think i met the other placement students apart from that initial time in westwood, unless we were both in a meeting and struck up convo
Went to Xmas dinner and colleagues leaving drinks
13. What was the cost of living and socialising in the area you worked in?
I rented a flat with 3 other guys - roughly £750 a month with all bills included and food
Compared to uni pretty expensive but obviously have a salary to pay it with
14. What was the Nightlife like in the area you worked?
It was ok
But we lived close to the station, and were able to go into London quite a bit so that was quite good.
15. Were there many opportunities to get involved in activities outside of work?
There was an activities board but i never gave much notice of it if i am honest
Though one student i knew was part of the birmingham football team for his department