Analytical chemist working with various fluids such as coolant, wash, oils, quench and sometimes with solid/particulate matter. Advises on quality of these substances.
1. To what extent did you enjoy your work placement or internship?
This was an interesting placement as the analytical work had lots of freedom in how we choose to develop methods given that we could find a way to do so. There's lots of equipment in the lab compared to many analytical labs and there is more freedom here in how you choose to work, which gives a student the opportunity to really hone their analytical development and practical skills.
2. To what extent did you feel valued by your colleagues?
Sometimes I felt like I was being given work that had impossible answers and was therefore essentially useless, however I think this is a problem common across all student placements.
3. To what extent were you given support and guidance by management/your supervisor(s)?
My manager was incredibly supportive, however I did often feel that I wasn't sure what I was supposed to be doing in terms of work and that I couldn't really ask.
4. How busy were you on a daily basis?
Some days I would have plenty to do and have very full days, whilst other days would be spent doing virtually nothing at all.
5. How much responsibility were you given during your placement?
In my first few months, I had the responsibility of managing one of the analytical processes which meant I was responsible for the correct running of certain aspects of the factory and had a fair degree of communication with production associates. However, this responsibility largely decreased towards the latter half of my placement as I moved onto project work.
6. To what extent did/will the skills you developed, and training you received, assist you in your degree studies and beyond?
Doing a placement is an excellent opportunity to hone practical skills, to gain a more thorough understanding of the differences between chemistry in the university lab and chemistry in an industrial lab and the challenges presented, and to gain valuable experience for industry work in order to help shape one's future career.
7. What was the general atmosphere in your office?
Sometimes the lab would be completely silent throughout the whole day - the team was very small. Other times there would be a lot of chatting and laughter and there would be a jovial environment. However, sometimes the manner of the conversation could make me quite uncomfortable.
8. How well organised was the overall work placement or internship set up?
The lab does not usually have students and was still in the adjustment period of determining how much work to give the student and so forth. This in mind, the placement did go fairly smoothly with no real problems except that I sometimes felt at a loose end. There was no other students, which meant I felt somewhat lonely sometimes as most people working here have done so for over a decade.
9. In terms of personal training and development, to what extent did the company or firm invest in you?
The placement was more about bringing my own skills to the company rather than vice versa, and as such there was minimum training beyond what was required in order to carry out the routine analysis which was more remembering what volumes go in which machines.
However, the opportunity for training was available when writing to analytical companies for assistance with their equipment.
10. What were the perks on your work placement?
Above 25 days holiday
11. How appealing are future employment prospects within the organisation?
Due to the small size of the team and the company's penchant for hiring apprentices over external employees, it is highly unlikely that I would have the opportunity to work for BMW in the future - something that would revoke the appeal of this placement for many. If I were somehow given the opportunity, I would consider taking it - something to bear in mind is that the salary here is almost twice as high as that for many analytical chemistry jobs.
12. Was there a good social scene amongst any fellow placement students/colleagues?
There were no students in the lab during my time here, and I only knew of one other student in the factory who worked in HR. Thus there was no social scene whatsoever. This was one of the biggest detriments of working here.
13. What was the cost of living and socialising in the area you worked in?
My rent was very cheap at £350 including bills in a very nice house 3 miles away from the factory, however socialising could be quite expensive as Birmingham is very large and taxi & train fares add up very quickly.
14. What was the Nightlife like in the area you worked?
I didn't really like Birmingham too much however I didn't really get to go out as I didn't meet anyone my age during my time here and due to the lack of work socials. My area was 10 miles out of the city so we mostly just went to the local pubs, some of which were quite nice.
15. Were there many opportunities to get involved in activities outside of work?