Working within the Research and Technology department to find solutions to shipbuilding issues, and implementing/designing new technology or software for warships.
I was given a wide breadth of projects and a high level of independence in all areas. The team were consistently friendly and supportive, and there were many opportunities for further training and learning within the company. However I was slightly disappointed by the lack of information regarding the type of work I'd be doing, and would have liked to be able to employ my degree knowledge more often within the projects. I'd like to stress however that the work was consistently interesting and challenging, and overall I would recommend the placement to another student- maybe an engineering student more than a science student.
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Honestly, despite the friendly environment, I didn't feel like my work was necessary integral to the business- nor that it particularly mattered when I completed it. The independence I was given was extremely exciting for me and I felt respected when discussing project progress and the timescales for work with my supervisors; I got the impression they trusted my jurisdiction in this matter. However project direction was often poor and I can only interpret this to mean my work was of low priority. My colleagues supported me when I was struggling with personal issues however, and if I had a complaint it would be taken seriously. Overall I would say I felt part of the team, but occasionally that I could be used for markedly less interesting work or that my performance wasn't massively important.
This is difficult to answer as it depends on the supervisor. Most of the projects I worked on were conducted almost entirely independently, which meant my supervisors often couldn't advise me on exactly what to do next as I had the bulk of project knowledge. However there were definitely occasions where I felt project guidance was poor, to the point that myself and other interns would regularly complain about it; though honestly, that could well have been due to the nature of the project, which was a grass-roots endeavour with no clear leadership. There was a project where my supervisor would regularly confuse me, and I was never quite sure exactly what was demanded; however, this was partly my fault for not asking more questions when I was uncertain. Conversely, there were also projects where I was given clear ideas about what was desired, and advice on what to do to progress. Also, when it came to administration or company policy, there was always clear advice provided.
There was never an occasion where I didn't have something to do, and conversely I was never buried underneath work. There were definitely periods where work was thin on the ground, and the only work available was tedious and/or non-technical. But for the most part, work was always available if I wanted it, and my projects allowed me great scope to expand and explore.
As stated before, I didn't necessarily feel my work was integral to the success of any project; however, I was given a high level of independence in almost everything I did. Therefore I would say I was responsible for my own output, but that I was never under too much pressure.
For my degree: almost nothing. I developed some understanding of civil engineering mathematics, got to work with some Finite Element Analysis software, and learnt some of the mathematics behind heat transfer (amongst other topics); but overall I developed very little knowledge which directly contributes to my success within my degree.
For working within business: I learnt how the team fit into the wider company, and how the company communicated between the different faculties. I learnt how teams integrated to work on overarching projects, and how changes occurred within business. I also learnt about the relationships between customers and manufacturers, in terms of how products evolve over time as capability and requirements are explored.
Soft skills: I developed in my personal organisation, time-keeping and communication (verbal and written). I also became a more proficient negotiator and team player, helping organise groups of varying size and diffusing more aggressive situations/. My ability to plan and develop projects also massively improved.
Overall, while not directly improving my expected performance within my degree, the placement gave me a taste of being a professional rather than a student. This strikes me as immensely important and so I would recommend this placement to a student uncertain how to transition into the working world.
Generally the environment was extremely friendly, with all staff assisting each other with projects and being happy to chat about anything at all. I never felt awkward when asking for assistance, whether in a project or just to locate a stapler in the office. There were, however, underlying issues between team members which made me occasionally uncomfortable; for example, there seemed to be problems with management, and it made me concerned that team members would occasionally ignore directives. I never felt any animosity or exasperation directed towards me however, and for the most part, the team felt like friends by the end of placement.
In my case, the scheme seemed well-organised; we had a dedicated support person in human resources, and my team understood that I was there to learn as much as to work. There was the opportunity to work several small placements (in different departments) within the business, and there didn't seem to be an area of the business who hadn't heard of industrial placement students or understand their basic purpose.
However, I would say that other placement students occasionally complained of being used as free labour, and didn't necessarily feel valued or taken seriously. I would also say that there was a lack of information available throughout the screening process for employees that I found frustrated; and that members of department were unaware of what I'd like to do when I turned up at the company. If it had been communicated that I wanted to work on software projects, I suspect that would have been the focus of my placement. Unfortunately that wasn't the case, and so I had to fight to work on projects I found beneficial to my personal growth.
The company made various training schemes available to me, such as a welding introduction course and multiple lectures from experts in their fields. I was also given opportunities to help at advertising events or help run information evenings for local schools. However there was never a huge focus on giving me opportunities to grow as a professional, aside from those I encountered within my projects.
Personally, I was disappointed with the benefits available to placement students after finishing- the graduate scheme was only available to those who'd performed at the highest level, and even they may not get a place if no vacancies were available. I'd also say that within the Naval Ships branch of BAE Systems, no positions were of particular interest to me as a scientist.
We did occasionally hang out, and we were friendly by the end of placement, but we organised everything ourselves. The other placement students were friendly across the board, and I got on well with almost all of them; but there was no real push from the company to host events to help us socialise.
Glasgow is a fantastic student city; transport is reasonably cheap (especially if the train is used) and accesses most areas of the city (thanks to the subway). There are loads of options for going out and socialising, appealling to all tastes; and Edinburgh is only an hour away on the train. However I wouldn't say that eating or generally socialising is much cheaper than other big cities.
I didn't go clubbing much, but I heard fantastic things from most people. There are endless bars and pubs to crawl between and if you don't like clubbing you'll never be short of stuff to do.
BAE made no real attempt to get us involved in social acitivities through work. Sports teams did exist and it wasn't too hard to contact them, but they were entirely organised by employees and you needed to know the right people to get in touch. However there were also charity events held throughout the year which many placement students took part in.