I really enjoyed the working environment and the work I was given - it was a very valuable experience and the team were lovely. I was given lots of responsibility from the first day and my supervisors provided as much support as I needed. The other interns were also lovely and we had fun working together on our group project, which also provided a significant challenge!
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They included me in discussions about both my work and the work they were doing so that I understood the wider scope of the department - this enabled me to tie in the work I was doing with the functioning of the department, and the business, as a whole. I was also invited to team meetings, and gained experience in presenting to more senior employees.
My placement manager and line manager were both very supportive, as were my two unofficial supervisors with whom I worked on the majority of my projects. However, my placement manager was not directly involved in the area in which my main projects were based, which somewhat hindered his ability to engage with my progress - this meant that I was more directly supported by other people in the department.
I typically worked on two projects simultaneously, completing over 4 projects over the course of the summer, as well as a Summer Intern Group Project that we did separately to our office-based projects - this was intended to comprise roughly 20% of our working hours. My actual workload fluctuated on a daily basis, but I always had something to do!
I was responsible for the creation of several permanent reference documents, which was really exciting! I also created documents which are intended for use several years down the line, and can be modified to suit the changing scope of the business - the hope is that these will remain in use long after I leave. Several of these documents were intended for use by new starters, so there was some pressure to provide accurate information in an accessible format.
I gained more confidence in talking to managers and presenting to peers, and also developed coding skills which were relevant to one of my projects. Although I am unlikely to use VBA for my degree, the principles that I learned are applicable across coding as a whole. I also gained practice at writing formal documents, and the kind of language required for permanent records.
I was in quite a large office, but the atmosphere was cheerful. There were several biscuit tins and baking rotas!
Although the placement has only been running for a few years, it is very well organised. The group project is coordinated by a team of graduate placement employees (this runs throughout the placement) and we also get given projects by our placement managers that typically are intended to last 3-6 weeks. I completed over 4 projects, all of which were well chosen for the time limit and for my capabilities.
I was sent on two training courses: both of these were aimed at the company's employees as a whole, and focussed on the wider implications of my department's work across the company. I also completed several online training modules: some of these were the mandatory training modules, but others were related to security matters. I was also allow to pursue projects that developed my skills: I spent some time learning to code in VBA.
I would be happy to return as a Direct Entry employee, as I enjoy the department in which I am interning and can see myself working there in the future. However, I also intend to apply for their Graduate Development Framework as this would allow me to develop other, more transferable skills (although I would still intend to end up in the same department). I am also planning to apply for the Sigma Leadership Scheme.
There was a great social scene amongst the summer interns, industrial placements and graduates. Through a society set up specifically for junior members of the company, we went out for dinner, drinks, and were invited to networking events. Although Barrow does not have much by way of nightlife, we often went out for drinks. This allowed us to not only get to know other employees and students, but to network with senior members of the company.
We paid roughly £100 a week's rent (bills included) for the 12 weeks. Local bars charged decent prices and the local Wetherspoons was also good value as always. When we went out in Ulverston, the beer was still reasonably priced despite being a nicer area. In terms of shopping, there are a number of budget supermarkets nearby.
Although alcohol was cheap and the wetherspoons was close, there were very few clubs. However, there were several notable karaoke bars and sports bars, so there was always something to do if you were drunk enough! For a classier night out, nearby Ulverston offers pubs and cocktail bars, as well as excellent pub dinners and a chippie.
There were several societies based around socialising outside work: there was a badminton club, a running club, a society that hosted payday meals once a month. We were also invited on an Outward Bound trip at the beginning of the placement which introduced us to the many exciting activities available in the Lake District. We sometimes also went for walks at weekends.