1. To what extent did you enjoy your work placement or internship?
My placement with JDE was not only invaluable to my professional development but I looked forward to going to work every day. The relevance and diversity of the projects I worked on ensured there was always something new to learn and get excited about! On top of this, my colleagues were welcoming and friendly which really contributed to my enjoyment of the placement.
2. To what extent did you feel valued by your colleagues?
There was no time within JDE where I was made to feel any less important than the other employees due to being a placement student. From day one I was asked to attend meetings by other members of my team and aid them where possible. Once I had settled and began producing my own work, this was always considered with respect and I felt that my team valued my contributions enough to place responsibility on me towards the end of the internship.
3. To what extent were you given support and guidance by management/your supervisor(s)?
The relationship I built with my manager was fundamental to the support I felt within the company. On a project level, she would direct and support my work whilst allowing me the freedom to progress. As well as this, guidance was provided on presentation skills, company procedures and countless other things. This support was not only given by my line manager but by team managers and directors too. Their interest in my progression made me feel supported throughout the year.
4. How busy were you on a daily basis?
There were very few days in my placement year where I wasn't working solidly throughout the day. Although this may not have been necessary at some points with my project load, there were always opportunities to fill your days with something productive; training on pilot plant equipment, observing consumer trials and volunteering at local schools are a few examples of these.
5. How much responsibility were you given during your placement?
I felt my colleagues at JDE were very good at observing each individual person and allocating them the level of responsibility they could handle. At the start of the year, responsibility for work was often shared with my manager as I lacked confidence in what I was doing. By slowly increasing my level of responsibility, I eventually felt comfortable acting autonomously in some projects whilst acting as a key contributor in others. Being given this responsibility has most likely been the greatest driver of my development.
6. To what extent did/will the skills you developed, and training you received, assist you in your degree studies and beyond?
This year in industry has prepared me for my final year of study more than I imagined it would. I am studying things that I have already mastered on my placement year and my report writing, presentation and statistical analysis skills have improved enough to make a noticeable difference to my results. I believe these skills along with experience of working will benefit me far beyond my degree.
7. What was the general atmosphere in your office?
The office dynamic was generally positive. Despite being in high pressure roles, most people still had time to say hello and get to know me. When problems with office morale were identified, a team of volunteers from the office got together to create a plan which was implemented quickly and improved the atmosphere of the office.
8. How well organised was the overall work placement or internship set up?
The application, interview and job offer part of the placement was very good. I felt involved at all steps by telephone calls and frequent emails. As JDE formed 6 days before the interns joined, there was some confusion at the start of the year as to roles and projects students would be taking. This confusion was not ideal for people trying to settle in to the company. As is often the case with JDE however, this has been identified as a point of weakness and a team are currently working to create a new system to help future employees; I'm confident this will result in seamless organisation for future interns.
9. In terms of personal training and development, to what extent did the company or firm invest in you?
The team invested in my personal and professional development heavily, I was given the opportunity to train on equipment, sent on visits to benefit my study and allowed to shadow other roles to get a more thorough understanding of how a company works. They also listened to my personal goals and addressed them; this involved travelling to other countries, being given statistical training and leading sessions.
10. What were the perks on your work placement?
Staff Sales/Staff Shop
Above 25 days holiday
11. How appealing are future employment prospects within the organisation?
The company are keen to develop interns to a point at which they can be considered for employment. The placement is seen as a year-long interview and many of the current staff are previous interns. I look forward to working with them in the future.
12. Was there a good social scene amongst any fellow placement students/colleagues?
As there is a large student group (usually around 16) the social scene is great. As well as having a social life within the student population there are opportunities to socialise with other colleagues as well; these include after work sports and a communal canteen. Students are encouraged to join a Student Charity Committee so even if they work in different departments, there's always time to get together.
13. What was the cost of living and socialising in the area you worked in?
Whilst on placement, I lived in Banbury. This is quite an expensive place to rent accommodation so it is best to house share with other students. There is time to organise this in the induction day. Apart from that, the cost of living is probably a bit cheaper than elsewhere in Oxfordshire.
14. What was the Nightlife like in the area you worked?
Although the night life isn't the best in Banbury there are some great bars which we definitely made the most of! If you fancy a casual night, there are loads of restaurants in the town which cater for everybody's taste.
15. Were there many opportunities to get involved in activities outside of work?
Almost every day of the week there was an activity on after work. These are mainly sports such as badminton, football and ultimate frisbee but there are also some less intense activities like board-game night. Lots of colleagues attend these events and they aren't just set up for interns.