1. To what extent did you enjoy your work placement or internship?
I really enjoyed my placement at Standard Life. I met a lot of people in various departments and I was able to get a view of all the parts of finance I could be involved with. My role was in the Operations function and having had an internship before I knew this wouldn't be my ideal position but all of the people I worked with were really nice and helpful.
2. To what extent did you feel valued by your colleagues?
My team were very relaxed and friendly. We often had little breaks where we would all engage in some conversation about things not relating to work which meant it was a pleasant environment to work in. I felt like they enjoyed having me there and that I made meaningful contributions to the conversation. My work was a mixed bad so there were some that I really felt that my work had been valued and some where I felt like my work wasn’t terribly important. Overall the environment was really great though.
3. To what extent were you given support and guidance by management/your supervisor(s)?
My one big project wasn't strictly managed by anyone in the team so there were times that I felt like the work I was doing was somewhat important but not urgent so I would sometimes try and stretch it out to avoid having to continuously ask for more to do. There was also some confusion over who really was my manager as my scheme was controlled by one person who I rarely met, my team was managed by another person and the person put in charge of me was another person who I didn’t receive any work from but who was a huge help.
When I needed help, I received it. Everyone was so willing to help me but I think I would have preferred if I had more time (at least to begin with) just shadowing someone else and getting given a checklist or short term goals to get to grips with the company.
4. How busy were you on a daily basis?
My big project was quite a slow moving project and although it was a meaningful contribution to the team, I needed help and guidance at every stage of the process because it was such an important document. Because my team were busy and sometimes on holiday, I would occasionally have long waits to have someone check my work so I could move on.
I had various other projects throughout which were a bit faster paced and had strict deadlines and I think I thrive under these conditions so it’s probably just a matter of preference.
5. How much responsibility were you given during your placement?
I think my main project was a good amount of responsibility. It was important I do everything correctly though so lots of checks of my work were made. At the start I wasn’t given much, on a couple of occasions I had emails written for me which, because of my previous experience, I didn’t feel like I needed it.
I was given complete control over my days though; I was trusted to get on with my work for days at a time. I also organised a lot of meetings for myself with people in other departments and this was totally fine with my team and encouraged by the wider community.
6. To what extent did/will the skills you developed, and training you received, assist you in your degree studies and beyond?
I think I gained in skills that would be useful for me working at standard life. I also had some insight into how financial services companies work and how the complicated structures fit together. I’m sure there are things that will be useful for me going back to uni like motivating myself to complete work and being critical when analysing. I will have to see once I am back at uni if I have changed and improved in ways that will help me.
7. What was the general atmosphere in your office?
The office was completely open plan so there is a good buzz in the office. I felt it was a very relaxed atmosphere, most of my team worked flexitime or part-time so people came and went quite frequently. At times it was very quiet but I didn't really mind that, everyone around me was very friendly and always asked about what I had been up to over the weekend etc.
8. How well organised was the overall work placement or internship set up?
I felt like there was a very strict plan for weekly targets but these weren't really followed up by anyone and in my opinion there needs to be smaller targets and check-ins throughout the week. It was beneficial to have the plan though because I knew what was coming up and although it was moved around a little bit, I was happy to follow it.
9. In terms of personal training and development, to what extent did the company or firm invest in you?
There was compulsory training for all new starts that was extensive and fairly boring although the intern community all got together almost every week for 2/3 hours to undergo some more general training. The company paid for us all to do the Gallup Strengths Finder which can be expensive to do it on your own and also held a session going through the strengths in more depth so we could understand them better. At the end of the placement we had to do a presentation so one of the sessions was a presentation workshop which I also enjoyed. The company made sure the interns all had time to get together and gave us a lot of support.
10. What were the perks on your work placement?
11. How appealing are future employment prospects within the organisation?
I spoke to a lot of graduates or people who had completed the grad scheme and everyone is so positive about it. The company gives you so much support on the scheme and it is varied due to the diverse placements I could be on. It is important to me that a grad scheme has different placements so I can really see if the company is for me and I think it seems like a really good company to work for.
12. Was there a good social scene amongst any fellow placement students/colleagues?
My parents are from Edinburgh so I stayed with them rather than in the accommodation set up for the interns but there is a really great social scene with the interns especially as most of the interns are living together. They would meet up regularly through the week and we would often have lunch together.
13. What was the cost of living and socialising in the area you worked in?
Edinburgh can be expensive but seen as accommodation is free whilst you work here it means there is more money to play with. Whilst the Edinburgh Fringe is on the whole city gets more expensive but the fringe is so much fun, I don't think anyone grudges it!
14. What was the Nightlife like in the area you worked?
15. Were there many opportunities to get involved in activities outside of work?
Within the intern community, yes. Otherwise I didn't see much of any societies for the other colleagues.