Investigating Novel E-liquid Technologies
1) On the whole, I enjoyed my placement at BAT and found it a rewarding experience. The project I was given had relevance to the company and there was importance on its completion, this made me more motivated to complete the work and hence it was more rewarding. Next Generation Products (NGP) in which I was situated has a nice working atmosphere and even though at the start of the year I felt as though I should have had more guidance with my work, this vastly improved throughout my time at BAT. Over the year I met many helpful and interesting people that were able to give me advice and make my time at BAT enjoyable.
Due to the importance and potential of the project I was given, I felt as though my colleagues valued my findings and opinions. As I was given complete ownership of the project, the progress the project made was reflecting on my work.
The placement team were extremely helpful in giving support to the students during the first couple of months of the placement, and initiated regular catch-ups throughout the year. Plenty of meetings were set up with managers of various departments to introduce us into their work and give us an insight into what they do. Initially, I felt as though I was given insufficient guidance and support by my manager in terms of what my work would include and in what direction it would take. Many students were given personal development goals, milestones and feedback by their manager on a regular basis to throughout the year, this however wasn’t the case and would’ve been beneficial for me. However, in terms of project work I was given a large amount of support and guidance from members of other teams. After a manager change, support and guidance for me improved massively.
The majority of the days consisted of a 9-5 day with 0.5-1-hour break for lunch. The work given was rarely overwhelming but varied week to week depending on upcoming meetings/deadlines. Overall, there was a nice balance of work.
As previously mentioned, I was given a large amount of responsibility during my placement. BAT tend to give their students business relevant projects and this was certainly the case with my project. Although initially this was daunting it was a fantastic learning experience for me. Because I was given full responsibility of my project, I was planning and carrying out my own experiments and feeding back upon these during presentations. The responsibility I was given certainly allowed me to progress as a person at BAT.
I was given the opportunity to utilise and develop many skills which I had previously learnt at university, in particular, my analytical chemistry skills. It was a great experience for me to get regular use of GC-FID, GC-MS, and headspace techniques.
More importantly, I could develop soft skills such as presentational, report writing and communication skills that will assist me during and beyond my degree study. Again, the helpful placement team set up presentation, CV and interview workshops. Giving regular presentations to my team has given me a lot more confidence which I can take into future presentations.
I found that if you needed any help in the office everyone was approachable and willing to help. There was usually a nice buzz in the office and a young, hardworking atmosphere. I got on well with people in the office and so there was a nice camaraderie. At the start of the year the office could get a bit loud due to a bit of overcrowding in the office, however, later in the year some of the desk changes improved this.
The placement team did a great job of organising the placement scheme. As previously mentioned they set up many meetings with managers from various departments across BAT. This allowed me to get a good picture of what each department did and how they fitted in with the direction of the company. The inductions allowed me to quickly settle in and get to grips with IT systems etc. BAT takes on around 15 students each year, before we started the placement the team invited us to Southampton to meet the previous placement students and the students that we would be on placement with that year. This was a nice ice-breaker for us.
Many of the personal training and development opportunities came from the placement team rather than my team. I’ve probably taken for granted many of the personal development opportunities that were available to me from the placement team, however they've been extremely useful. It would however have been nice to get some more development opportunities from my team that were degree specific.
There are many current employees that were previously placement students at BAT. This makes future employment prospects quite strong. Although there are examples of students that come back to BAT, there a still many of those that don’t. For the investment BAT makes into the student scheme it would probably want to take back more previous students.
BAT takes on a lot of placement students (around 15). This contributed to a nice social scene amongst the students.
Southampton is a fairly cheap city and so the cost of living and socialising was fairly average. Depending on where you would want to live, the cost of living could vary massively, it’s therefore dependant on how much you are willing to pay for a house/flat. Pubs are clubs are average prices although as there are two universities it’s easy to get cheaper deals mid-week.
Nightlife isn’t fantastic but is similar to many other cities of its size with the same generic clubs.
Through work there were opportunities such as a competitive five-aside tournament which was great fun if you enjoy football and contained around 6-8 BAT teams. There was also a BAT cricket team that competed in a local midweek cricket league. The sports and social team (running onsite gym and classes) also took part in local events such as ‘active warrior’ runs and other fun run events that you could take part in. If there was any hobby you had coming to Southampton, there would be clubs around that you would be able join.