I thoroughly enjoyed my work placement with British American Tobacco. The offices are incredibly friendly, the support you get both with your work and your general well being is really good and your here with 10 other placement students! The level of responsibility I was given really pleasantly surprised me and day to day I have enjoyed this year more than my second year at uni.
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It was made clear to me from the start that I was a real part of the team, and therefore the work expected from me was to be of the same standard as everyone else. This both terrified me and made me feel very valued! I feel like the work I have done throughout the year has actually made a difference and helped my colleagues out.
At BAT you have a line manager who is responsible for your work and day to day activities. Then we are also given a mentor who you can speak to for any out of work issues, or just general questions that you might not want to ask your boss. My line manager has been brilliant throughout the year, at times he has really pushed me in my stats abilities but I know this is just so I get the most out of the year as possible.
The placement starts slowly with inductions and quiet days; however this really gives you a chance to settle in before the real work starts. From then on I have been busy every single day, with different projects overlapping at a time. I can get bored very easily so this level of work kept me really engaged throughout the whole year.
This is the part of the placement that really shocked me. I honestly felt like a real employee with the types of work I was given, eventually analysing data for colleagues completely independently and being trusted to do so. I think this really gave me pride in the work I was doing and made the year a lot more enjoyable.
Even though I completed a statistics placement at British American Tobacco, stats is only a small aspect of my degree programme. Therefore the practical applications I have learnt this year will not help too much in my actual degree, however will be indispensable in after I graduate, in future job roles. Throughout the year I was given training in software such as Minitab, R, JMP and SAS programming. I also undertook sessions in presentation skills, project management schemes and interview skills.
My office had a really good atmosphere if not slightly quiet at times. It was open-plan so it felt like you could approach anyone easily if you had any questions. When I first started everyone was incredibly friendly and were so happy to show you the area of work they are in. At certain times of the year the office mood obviously fluctuated (January) but in general it was a nice place to sit in everyday.
Before we started in September all the students met for the day to meet each other, last years students, our managers and to sort out housing for the upcoming year. This was really good and settled a lot of my nerves about starting in September. Once you start you are more or less left to your own devices, with your line manager being responsible for what work you take on and your general responsibilities. I do feel though that if I ever had a serious problem whilst on placement there would be someone to speak to about it.
I feel that I was really invested in as an individual from the start. BAT paid for me to take an exam in programming, gave me so much training in software packages and provided courses on real life skills. The level of work I produced throughout the year improved massively and I have come away with a real wealth of knowledge in practical statistics and computational tools that I really wasn't expecting to!
BAT is a company I would highly consider returning to, the only aspect of the job that would put me off is the location. Everyone is so friendly, they offer many travel opportunities, and your career pathway can go in so many directions. I have been treated like a full time employee at BAT since I started and I can really imagine myself coming back.
The best aspect of this placement has been going through it all with the 10 other students. It made starting off in September so much easier knowing there was always someone you could go to lunch with!
The cost of living is very cheap compared to Bath! We may not have lived in the nicest area of Southampton but can not complain about the rent at all. We missed out on the student nights during the week because of work so the cost of socialising tended to be quite high on a Friday and Saturday night.
It started out great, it felt like there were lots of places to go. however towards the end it got quite samey. Southampton has two unis so there is always somewhere busy to go. In hindsight we probably should have gone to Portsmouth and Bournemouth more than we did.
For people looking for outside work opportunities, there are plenty. I joined a local netball team and it really has made a difference in my year having that twice a week and just a different group of people to socialise with. Others have joined squash, rugby and football teams. BAT also sells subsidised tickets to shows in Southampton which is really good!