Mainly project work involving creating systems for management information and data analysis. Aiding with the efficient implementation of track and signalling works from a Project Management viewpoint.
I loved having my placement at Network Rail, from the start I was given exciting tasks to further my understanding of the industry. As I completed each small project, I would be moved swiftly onto projects of a much larger scale including the opportunity to create a new system of work that will be used a long time after I leave. I liked it so much that I am looking at Graduate jobs here.
I had a great support network from the other placement students and graduates, particularly as department specific Year In Industry days were arranged. This was where I worked with the other interns to plan and carry out presentations to top managers in the department; are views were really listened to and the managers were interested in our fresh prospective.
Throughout the year, I was encouraged to make a Personal Development Plan that would show how I felt I was doing on placement. My manager would then sit down with me to discuss this and what my targets would be for the future. I then worked on these new targets together with my manager over time which has significantly increased my confidence and skills over this last year.
For me, I was busy most days from getting to work to going home, it varies department to department but my job involved the management of several projects at once which all required a fair amount of time. This was very important for my time management skills but I know others had less to do and may have not had such a practical experience with carrying out projects.
I was given a large amount of responsibility but this was only through completing smaller projects first which enabled the managers to give me more. I had to complete tasks of varying volume to be considered for the next, but this meant that I could not afford to be laissez-faire about project completion, otherwise the next might be given to someone else, not necessarily a Year In Industry student. Working hard here has it's rewards.
The Year In Industry days that I had with my department involved presentations to managers, this taught me how to professionally present which will be useful for my dissertation presentation next year. My teamwork skills have improved because each project I worked on involved several other members of staff so I had to keep them updated on my progress. As well as being able to plan and discuss how best to move the project forward but I was able to make the final decisions.
Everyone is very relaxed and wanting to have a laugh but the priority being that you get your work done. I have found that I can e-mail anyone or go up to talk to other employees in the office very easily and this is the same in every single office I have visited whilst working at Network Rail. The whole ethos of the business involves working together to achieve goals having regular team meetings which allows easier lines of communication between managers and employees.
Due to the vast array of departments at Network Rail, there was no clear job description for what each individual will be doing. Having said that, it meant that the possibility of moving around different departments was a lot easier as there were not a huge amount of daily tasks I had to do, I could make of the placement what I wanted.
The Year In Industry days, particularly with large numbers of staff and managers attending were very beneficial. That level of people specifically to hear the students showed how much thought they gave to us and our views. The managers having 1-to-1 meetings with us was also important so that each individual would know how they are progressing and how to move forward from this.
I have moved around several different departments which allowed me to analyse which one I would like to go into upon returning to Network Rail. Each graduate scheme offers additional qualifications to be studied for, this includes graduates doing Project Management (APM) , or finance (CIMA). The further training options are very appealing to me here and there are plenty of opportunities available. Doing well on the placement could allow your manager to put you forward for the graduate scheme with only an informal interview.
At the beginning definitely and continued through the year. It was much easier at the start because there were less work commitments each person had whereas as time went on different people had a week in one city whilst others hadn't moved. I still had a lot of free time to go out and about with the others students and feel I had a good work-life balance.
I live in a large city while I'm on placement which meant that it was very easy to socialise and I would be able to attend any events after work as I was within walking distance of both work and the centre. There was of course the issue that comes with city life, is that it is more expensive than small towns etc. The cost of rent and food would be higher but this is balanced out by the social life and it is still completely manageable and a high level of disposable income is still very likely.
The city I lived in has a great nightline and I lived very close to a significant amount of these attractions. There are many pubs, bars and clubs within 15 minutes walk which meant that I could take full advantage of the nightlife. Some of the placement students lived the other side of the city so it made it more difficult to co-ordinate but still fairly easy to do.
Due to the nature of the business, not many staff members are in the same place at one time. This means that staff sports or social clubs are not really possible. There is a large number of staff in total but they are spread all across the UK and a large amount of employees are track operatives so are likely to be on night shifts. This means that departments organise outings themselves rather than as a group company wide.