This review was submitted over 4 years ago, so some of the information it contains may no longer be relevant.
I very much enjoyed my Placement Year at Lighthouse. I have learnt a lot about different Companies and their processes, and even had the opportunity to visit 2 customers to see how they use the software first hand. I learnt a wide variety of skills which will help me in my future, and I would love to return when I finish University.
Lighthouse Systems is like a family, everyone knows everyone else and always strive to make you feel welcome. My Manager always let me know when I had done a good job, and would frame any criticism constructively as to show that she was trying to help me improve, rather than pointing out my mistakes. I even had one of the Directors tell me that I had done a good job whilst supporting one of our customers during my placement which showed just how much we are valued.
Lighthouse gave me as much support as I required, and they would have been happy to give me more if it was needed. Both at the beginning and the end of my placement, I could always ask for help, whether it was from other members in the Support Team, my manager, members of the Development or Implementation team, or even the directors (when they were not extremely busy), everyone was more than happy to answer my questions. I never felt like I was bothering them, or interrupting them whilst working, and they would let me know if they needed a minute first to finish what they were doing.
During the 7 weeks of training we were very busy every day. At first, after leaving the training room and starting in the main office, I was not as busy as I had been in training - but my days were still full. I was slowly introduced to the amount of work, and as time when on the days got busier. There were times when there did not seem to be enough time in the day, and times when there did not seem to be enough work, but I was never bored or overworked. If there seemed to be too much to do we could always tell our manager or talk to the other members of our team to see if they were able to take some of it. When it seemed like there was not a lot of work we could also discuss with each other and our manager and we would get work as needed.
After the first 7 weeks of training we were thrown into the deep end, answering phone calls and supporting customers straight away. I was given ownership of a group of customers to support along with ad hoc support for other customers as required. I was the sole contact for the customers I was given to support, unless I was not in the office, some of these customers heavily rely on the software produced by Lighthouse. Shortly after I had finished training I had an urgent issue to resolve for one of these customers, although I could ask for help I could not get someone else to solve the issue, it was my responsibility to get the issue fixed within our SLA and make the customer happy.
The skills that I have learnt from my placement at Lighthouse will help me throughout my career in Computer Science. I have worked with both C# and VB during my placement, which has helped me to improve my general Programming skills which will help me with my project in my Final Year at University. Before my Placement I was not confident on the phones, in fact after answering my first phone call I hastily handed it over to a colleague whilst having a minor freak out. I can now happily answer the phone and talk with the customer whilst fixing the issue with only minor hesitance on my part. I have also gained a lot more confidence in general which will help me in University and beyond.
Friendly, everyone in the office knows everyone else, many living together in house shares. Lighthouse is like a large family, where everyone is happy to help each other. Communicating with the team is easy when you need help, no matter their seniority. Although the office is generally quiet whilst everyone is getting on with their work, it never feels stifling, I am not afraid to break the silence. The office is not extremely formal, everyone happily laughs and jokes with everyone else, from Students to Directors.
The placement is really well organised. From the start of the placement I generally knew where I should be and what I should be doing. For the first 7 weeks we were in the training room learning about the software and how to support customers using it. It was made clear from the beginning when we would be moving from the training room and into the main office, ready to start working on Support. Once the new students arrived in July we were setting non-urgent work aside for them, ready for when they left the training room and started working on support. We were always given work as it needed to be done, and never felt like our manager was struggling to find work for us.
The invested a lot in our training and development. We had 7 weeks of training at the beginning of the placement which taught us all about the software that we would be working with. Lighthouse did 'Learning Lunches' regularly on Fridays which would teach us about certain aspects of the software or business. Each month we would have a one-to-one Mentor meeting with our manager to discuss how the month has been, whether we felt like we needed to improve on areas.
Working from home
I would love to come back to work at Lighthouse Systems Ltd once I have finished University. The team is really friendly and are always happy to help. On Birthdays we would get cakes, which is always a good thing, and they always had chocolate and sweets available. Working with all the different companies that I have has been a real learning experience and I would love to continue learning about them.
There is a lot of house-sharing with the employees of Lighthouse. I myself lived with 2 of my colleagues and another placement student, and many Fridays nights were spent playing poker together. Friday evenings after work we would go to the pub down the road and have a drink. There was a 5-a-Side football team this year, set up by another placement student, and a lot of my colleagues would have been up for almost anything.
Its not really expensive, or really cheap either. If you house-share it is generally a lot cheaper for rent than living alone, or with only one other person. The prices are pretty decent considering the salary. With Cineworld offering an unlimited pass for around £17 a month its not too expensive.
Crawley itself may not have the greatest nightlife, however both Brighton and London are not too far away and both have booming Nightlife. A lot of my colleagues live in Brighton and know of the good places to go.
Lighthouse throw a Christmas party every year, with a free bar and overnight accommodation in one of the Brighton hotels. I was lucky enough to be here for their 25th anniversary. We had a day of team-building fun with 'It's a Knockout' and then a nice meal in the Hilton at Brighton as well as a disco, free open bar and overnight accommodation. This year we started up a 5-a-Side football team as well. When the students leave or another colleague leaves Lighthouse happily do a leaving meal for them, paying for it all including a lot of drinks.
Placement Year (10 Months+)