I thoroughly enjoyed my placement year. Before starting with Gist, I never intended to do a placment year, but the opportunities and progression that Gist has offered me in the short space of a year has been second to none and I am so glad I chose to apply. There are many aspects of the role I enjoyed, all teaching me different elements of a HR role.
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I quickly built strong relationships with those in my team, and also the surrounding departments within Head Office. I felt very valued by each one of them. I was always reminded of the contribution I was making towards the team, and the difference that I was able to make within my role.
My colleagues and managers would always give me feedback which would keep me motivated to want to perform to my highest standard. They continously reassured me throughout my time at Gist, whilst helping to support my development areas in the most effective way. The feedback was delivered in a mixture of ways, but I was often working independently, whilst being able to contact my manager at any time I needed.
My days would differ dependent on the day of the week. Typically, the end of the week would be busier, but there was always something to do within the office. This could be supporting other members of the team with their workload, or working on ad-hoc projects that would come from the wider HR function.
I was always given lots of responsibility. In the first half of my placement I was responsible for the management of the careers fairs that we would attend as a graduate team. This involved coordinating hotel bookings, arranging support and ordering giveaways for the event. In the second half of my placement, I was responsible for organising and leading an Open Day for existing employees to have a look around our new depot to experience where they would soon be working. This involved liasing with suppliers of catering, bouncy castles etc.
Lots of the training I recieved will be very applicable to my degree, as well as being able to apply this to a graduate role that I will hopefully secure. For example, one training workshop gave me the tools I needed to understand different management styles that I may come across in my time at work or even outside. The training provided me with the skills to best understand these styles, and how to best approach each of them to gain the most productive results.
The atmosphere in Head Office was corporate and professional, yet very supportive. We had regular meetings so that the entire HR team would understand eachothers priorities as well as understanding that of the other departments within the business. The layout of the office and entire building provided a good environment to develop my own understanding of what each of our central functions does, and the service they provide to our wider team. Comparing this to the atmosphere in the depot, it was very different, but enjoyable. The depot was much busier, with lots of operations continuously happening. However, I enjoyed the operational environment due to it's busy nature.
I had a firm development plan from day one as to how I was going to progress throughout the year. This was reassuring as it meant that I wasn't going to feel like a spare part to an already very busy operation. Having two structured six months rotational placements meant that I could learn and experience a wide range of HR and Recruitment practices in a short space of time, whilst being exposed to various opportunities that would help me to develop.
Gist invested lots of time into me through training and development programs. Many of the training events that I attended helped me to better understand the colleagues around me, and different leadership styles within the business. I also learnt a great deal around communication, and how to gain the best results from various communication techniques, which was a key element of my role as lots of our sites are over the UK rather than all in one office. Gist prides itself on its people focus, and this was instilled into my learning and development from my first day.
The future employment prospects within Gist are very appealing. There is the chance for progression onto the HR Graduate Scheme dependent on performance on the IP year, which again, is a fast paced scheme with lots of progression. This is something I would definitely be interested in, the opportunities would be endless.
Along with myself, there was a tight knit group of Industrial Placement students and Graduates who also joined Gist in September. We met regularly at training events and also kept in contact often through social media. Having the group around me provided a supportive environment so that we could all advise each other on various issues that arose for each of us.
I lived in Reading, which is a large town with a well-known university, meaning the town itself had a student heavy population. This was ideal for myself as I felt that this made it is easier to socialise in the local area. There were lots of places to eat, as well as a shopping centre with many popular high street shops, all at regular high street prices. The cost of living was average for the area, many people commute to London from Reading, but this didn't seem to impact the price of renting too much.
During both halves of my placement, I was able to regularly socialise and go for dinner etc in the local area due to the wide variety of places to go. Especially in the second half, my placement location of Enfield had various places to go to as it was in such close vicinity to central London where there was a huge choice of options for nightlife.
Outside of work, there were opportunities to socialise with other members of the team, or employees from others sites who were visiting would get in contact to arrange to meet. Throughout my time at Gist, there were social events going on outside of work such as theatre visits that would be advertised via email etc.