I thoroughly enjoyed my placement year, the role suited my skills and I felt like I was able to contribute positively to the company and developed myself professionally. The company as a whole is a very friendly place with senior management being fairly accessible. There are plenty of social and sporting activities that I was able to get involved in.
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I felt a lot more like an employee rather than a student which was a great experience. As the placement progressed and my knowledge in the area I was working on increased people became for reliant on me and I found myself assisting other teams with their work. My only criticism was that there was a few occasions where people took advantage of my lack of seniority to get me to do work for them at the expense of my own.
My manager was excellent and was the main reason I found the placement so rewarding, I was given space to develop independently but knew I always had support available and wasn’t afraid to ask for help if I needed it, this lack of micro-management where I was given tasks and had to accomplish them using my own initiative suited me entirely. I also gained recognition for my work from more senior team members due to him mentioning me to them in meetings.
At the start of the placement I was kept busy by the large number of introductory meetings that took place to acquaint us with the business. As the placement progressed due to the nature of my department I would sometimes be extremely busy for a few days then have less work to do for a couple.
I was given a project that was very valuable to the business as well. I also had to meet business critical deadlines on which other people were relying. I had to look after a lot of valuable stock and ensure its safe keeping. As well as this my work was used to make critical decisions about the products I was working on and tests I did solved real problems we were experiencing.
I managed to utilise a lot of the skills I had learnt at university during my time at the company, being able to use the theoretical knowledge I had learned in practical applications was very satisfying. I also had to give a lot of presentations to various members of the company and this helped me to improve considerably in that area.
The office was very active and had plenty going on all the time. The department I worked in was one of the younger ones within the company which meant it was fast moving and more dynamic. All of my colleagues were friendly and it's a very pleasant work environment. There are free hot drink machines in the office and water fountains.
The placement scheme at the company is a well-established scheme and well run by the people running it. There is a lot of activities for the students throughout the year and we take part in a number of workshops to improve our professional development throughout the year.
There were opportunities throughout the year to take part in training schemes as well as the technical training that I was giving on a wide variety of equipment. I was also given the opportunity to visit different departments. I got the opportunity liaise with external suppliers which I felt was very beneficial to my professional growth.
The company is growing year on year and there are a lot of new posts opening. They are very keen on re-hiring placement students who perform during their year and the promotions within the company seem to be given on merit rather than time served. The advancement in the company seems to be substantial.
The other employees where very keen to engage with us socially and the large number of placement students they take on means that you have plenty of company your own age. However you have very little time to get to know the others before you start and this can cause friction if you rush into housing decisions too quickly.
The rental prices are not amazing but probably lower than a lot of students are used to, it was easy to find an apartment to rent. The prices are normal for a southern city (£3-4 for a pint or £5 if you go somewhere nice.) but due to the large student population there are a lot of shops aimed at that market.
The nightlife isn’t going to comparable to a big city as Southampton has a small centre. There are quite a few bars and restaurants but the city does lack many trendy places with many of the places being chains. There are however plenty of students so clubs will be busy during weekdays if you want to go out. London is only a 90 minute train journey away so that is a possibility.
I played 5 a side football with other people from work in a very well run league. There are lots of events that work can subsidise tickets also. There’s quite a few cricket teams too but no rugby if you’re interested in playing (there are clubs just not work affiliated ones).