Prior to starting my internship, I was very unsure if I wanted to work in a big company or if I wanted a career in finance. With regards to working in a huge global company such as GE, this is probably the aspect of my placement which I enjoyed least. I found the environment to be too corporate for my personal liking. Furthermore, because my placement was in such a large company, my area of work was very specific. Whilst I enjoyed this in some respects as it meant I gained a full understanding of my focus area, I think I would have enjoyed a smaller company where I could have had a more general role and seen more of the business as a whole. I enjoyed some aspects of my role a lot, for example preparing data and using it for analysis or investigating why there were issues in data. Other aspects of my work were less enjoyable such as preparing reports as it was very repetitive. Overall I did enjoy many aspects of my placement and learnt a lot.
I was part of quite a small team, there was only myself + 4 other people. Throughout my year here 3 members of the team moved jobs and were replaced by other people- something which is quite common in GE. As a result of this relatively high rate of change I don't think my relationship with my team members was as strong as it would have been had I stayed in the same team for the whole year. However, I did get on well with everyone I worked with throughout the year. With regards to my work within the team, the majority of the time I felt like my input was really valued and appreciated by my colleagues however on some occasions I did feel that what I was doing wasn't fully appreciated.
Throughout my time in GE I had 2 managers and 1 supervisor. In the first half of my placement I did not work closely with my manager at all due to him being extremely busy. I felt that he did not naturally offer a lot of support and guidance however he was there if needed and I never felt that I couldn't approach him if I needed help and support with something. However during the first half of my placement I did have a supervisor whom I worked very closely with and who offered me a huge amount of support and guidance which was a great help during the first few weeks of my placement. My first manager and my supervisor moved jobs at the same time and I work much more with my new manager. I feel that he makes a lot of time to help and support even though he is also very busy. I have never felt that I didn't have enough guidance and support if I asked for it.
My work levels fluctuated a huge amount. During quarter close my workload could be exceptionally heavy and there were occasions when I would be in the office until midnight. Whereas during other periods I would struggle to find something to do during the day. However I feel that this was only partly due to me being a placement student and partly because that was the nature of the team I was on. I did find the transition difficult when my supervisor moved roles as he was the one who gave me most of my tasks and whilst someone new was settling into the team I was left with very little to do.
There were quite a few processes/tasks where I was given full ownership and responsibility and where it was very important that they were completed to a high standard. There was also a couple of tasks where I was given responsibility for part of a project. However because projects in this company were always so huge, I could never really be given responsibility for the full project. There were definitely parts of my job where I felt that I was a vital component of the team and if I didn't do the tasks I had responsibility for then others would struggle to do their jobs.
I didn't experience any formal training during my placement year however I did naturally develop a lot of skills which will be vital to any future career. I learnt a huge amount about working and communicating with people of different cultures and nationality. Furthermore I developed excel skills which I had never had before which will be valuable in any future finance career and which I think I can employ to help in the final year of my degree. I developed a lot of confidence in trusting my own ability and learning how to put my thoughts and opinions across in formal situations. I gained a really good understanding of some real life applications of the subject of my degree which I had never experienced before.
I would say that most of the time the atmosphere in the office was quite quiet and reserved. However that being said, I shared a big desk with my team and we would have good conversations each day. Everyone in the office was very friendly and there was always someone to talk with if you wanted to. There was also generally a big group of people who would have lunch together which was a nice way to break up the day. Sometimes during very busy period the atmosphere could become quite stressed which was less enjoyable to work in.
I think the organisation of the placement was really quite poor. I was only the second intern in this team and I feel that the role hadn't really developed in the first year so my role is completely different to what it was the first intern and it feels that the role has developed on a day by day basis to fit business rather than them having any real idea what I would be doing. Furthermore for the first 3 weeks of my placement, my only contact and training was with the intern who was handing over to me which I thought was really poor as he was very unorganised and left me very unsure of what my role would be when he left.
As my placement developed, it did become a lot more organised however I think that is because my team is organised rather than it being because the placement is organised.
I don't feel that I was really offered many opportunities for personal training or development whilst I was here. There were a number of opportunities when I was asked if there was any opportunities I would like for example spending a day working with a different finance team however these were forgotten about due to the busy work environment and nothing ever came of it. I do think that maybe there would have been more opportunities for development if I had been more pushy in asking for things. Furthermore, I wasn't particularly passionate about the role I was in, or about a career in finance at all so maybe it was my fault for not actively seeking out personal development opportunities.
GE have a very good financial management programme for those who want a career in finance. The programme offers the opportunity to complete 4 rotations in different GE businesses in different locations. However, the workload of those on the FMP programme is huge. The programme does not really appeal to me as I really want a good work-life balance which I do not think is available on the graduate scheme here. Furthermore I do not think I want to work in a company this big again. Therefore I think there are appealing future employment prospects here but they do not appeal to me personally.
There were around 15 other placement students here however there was only one other placement student in my business. We did meet up a few times outside of work and had a christmas party, there was also always a table of placement students having lunch together everyday. A lot of the other placement students commuted into London from around 2 hours away so it was a struggle to do things outside of work. There were a couple of my colleagues who I got on really well with and did do things outside of work with however because people in GE move around so often, most of them had moved elsewhere by the end of my placement.
My placement was in London so obviously it was very expensive. However I lived with 2 other housemates and I wouldn't say that I was short of money this year. I had enough money to have a good year and to really enjoy London however there is no denying that it is an expensive place to live and I didn't really save any money.
The nightlife in the area I worked in was very very limited, there was a lot of nice pubs but no real bars or clubs. The area I lived and worked in did have really good transport links to the rest of London so it was easy to go out to other places which had a good nightlife, this was made even easier due to the introduction of the night tube.
There were a few opportunities to get outside of work but nothing that was particularly regular or organised. I do think that this was because we were in a HQ environment in London and I got the impression that at a lot of the other GE sites around the UK there were many more opportunities to get involved in activities. Here I think that the busy pace of life got in the way sometimes.