Industrial Placement in Hardware, for Electronic Systems, Rochester
I found this placement highly enjoyable, and the experiences diverse. There is a good graduate community that engages with all of the placement students, and there is a good focus on social activities in addition to the working life. The work placement itself had a diverse range of tasks, and I had some involvement in the direction of the placement to allow me to experience aspects that I had a keen interest in.
I felt very valued by my colleagues. I was given tasks that were important, and my work was reviewed similar to how it would be if I were a full time employee. The work given to me felt meaningful, rather than the stereotype of making tea and coffee, and various levels of management engaged with me on my placement, which also made me feel like as a placement student I was valued in my role within the department.
Both my manager and supervisors were always available to help, and provide any guidance necessary. When given a task, I was always provided with a reasonable amount of information to get me started, and if I ever had questions my supervisors were always willing not to tell me a solution, but guide me towards a suitable outcome. My manager was also excellent in providing support not just for my day-to-day tasks, but support in discussing future opportunities and self-improvement options.
The workload over the course of the year was very well balanced. There was enough work to fill the standard 37-hour week, with high priority tasks filling most of that time. For the remainder, a number of lower priority tasks were available to be worked on during quieter periods, for example when waiting for a part to arrive, or for an item to return from testing. As work can be relatively self-managed, and due to the nature of the work, reporting progress and requesting further tasks in advance is more appropriate than waiting to be assigned work when a previous task is completed.
At the beginning, I was given small responsibilities with some oversight, however very quickly my responsibilities grew as my supervisor became more confident in my abilities. Within a few weeks, my responsibilities were above what I was initially expecting, and my work was trusted in a similar vein to if I was a full time employee. By the end of the year, I was a large part of the project I was working on, and entrusted with high priority tasks crucial to product delivery.
I feel the skills I have developed during the placement will be invaluable to both my degree and my career. The practical aspect of putting theory into practice to design and test a product is something that is not well covered during a degree, at least not to the extent that a real world example can provide. The training I received on this placement was also extensive, and I received training both directly related to the work I was doing, and also indirectly related, to give me a more holistic overview of how the company runs.
The general atmosphere in the office was a light-hearted one, with a good worth ethic and a good balance between hard work and a social atmosphere. It was easy to approach colleagues to ask questions, and discuss common engineering related interests. There was also discussion on process improvements and ways to improve the company.
The placements are a regular occurrence, so the process in place is very well defined. A desk was prepared for my arrival, and I was introduced to my supervisors. From the beginning, work was ready for me from the off, and my colleagues were used to having a supply of work ready for me throughout the year.
A lot of time and resources was invested in me for the duration of my placement. Regular ‘skip meetings’ took place every few weeks where higher levels of management took an hour out of their day to invest in graduate and placement students. During these sessions, they gave insight into how they got to their position and gave more information regarding their day-to-day activities. Further, I attended a number of training courses to develop me, courtesy of the company.
The organisation provides a good graduate scheme for future employment within the company. The prospects for the two-year scheme are good, with a reasonable starting salary and options to move about during this scheme. It usually provides four placement options, one of which is normally out of the department, to broaden knowledge of the company.
There was an excellent social scene amongst fellow placement students; we arranged a social event usually once a week after work for the Industrial Placements. This was often linked with other Graduate / Summer Placement Student events, which also occur around once or twice a week. These are usually meals or visits to a local pub and are open to anyone interested in joining. In addition, other social events with colleagues happen throughout the year, and there is often a new-starter event for Graduates and Industrial Placements.
The cost of living in the area is relatively cheap for the South of England, with rent approximately £400 for a room in a house share. Local supermarkets such as Asda (a 5-minute drive from site), or Tesco (a 20-minute drive from site, but near many housing locations) are priced as expected, and both offer home deliveries. The nightlife is priced slightly cheaper than many other places in the South of England.
The High Street in Rochester is teeming with activity on weekends, but also on Thursday evenings, when most social events take place (Graduates regularly meet on Thursdays). There are a range of pubs and bars, from known chains such as Wetherspoons, to more expensive bars such as George Vaults. There are also a number of popular clubs on the high street.
The wellness department offer support for a number of sporting activities that take place outside of work, including football, badminton, and basketball. These activities take place weekly, sometimes twice a week, and are well attended. There are other regular opportunities such as organised outings to places such as airshows, theatre shows, etc, with discounted tickets and arranged transport.