1. To what extent did you enjoy your work placement or internship?
I have thoroughly enjoyed working in the supply chain quality team at MINI Plant Oxford. I have learnt a lot about logistics in the automotive industry. I also had the opportunity to spend some time with human resources. The plan had a friendly atmosphere and there was a large intern community, which made it a fun place to work. The only negative was that the plant does not currently have a standardised structure for intern placements however; this is something that they are looking to improve.
2. To what extent did you feel valued by your colleagues?
My colleagues listened to my opinions and suggestion. Members of the team frequently told me that the work I did was very helpful. There was one occasion where a member of another team did not cooperate with my project because they had the attitude that I was “just an intern” but my manager took the incident seriously and supported me to overcome this issue.
3. To what extent were you given support and guidance by management/your supervisor(s)?
When I asked for guidance I was supported by my manager, supervisor and other work colleagues. My manager was very supportive because he encouraged me to communicate my ideas with other team members. I had to be a self-motivated individual to work in the logistics quality team because the nature of the work meant that my colleagues were often away visiting suppliers. Even when my supervisor was away, he answered my questions. When my manager became aware that I study HR as well as business, he supported my interests by arranging some work experience with the human resources department. I feel that support and guidance could be even better if there was a structure for intern placements.
4. How busy were you on a daily basis?
I was reasonably busy on a daily basis. The start of each month was usually my busiest time because this is when I had to run reports. Sometimes I had spare time after completing my tasks but I was usually able to find something to do. When I was not very busy other team members would ask for my help with tasks.
5. How much responsibility were you given during your placement?
I was given projects to work on from the very start of my placement. I was trusted to contact suppliers on a daily basis. Although I had some responsibility, I feel that my capability was underestimated and I could have managed more. During a focus group regarding internships at the plant, other interns agreed with my view that some managers are afraid to test our ability to the full.
6. To what extent did/will the skills you developed, and training you received, assist you in your degree studies and beyond?
Now I have completed my placement I have a better understanding of how the business theory that I learnt at university applies in practice. I will be able to use my work experience when writing examples in my university work. As well as working with logistics I had a chance to work in HR. Both the logistics and human resources departments have said that they would be happy to support any questions that I might have when writing my dissertation. My placement gave me the chance to further develop my Excel, PowerPoint, Access and SAP skills. Because the BMW Group is a multinational company, I was able to work with a variety of people and this gave me a great insight into cultural differences, which is a topic that I will continue to study at university. I have gained more knowledge about the automotive industry. Some employees at BMW have German lessons and I feel that this is something that interns would also benefit from because there is a noticeable divide between the English and the German students.
7. What was the general atmosphere in your office?
The atmosphere in the office was friendly and chatty. The office was newly refurbished so it was light and spacious.
8. How well organised was the overall work placement or internship set up?
When I started my placement, everyone was welcoming but the organisation of the placement needs the most improvement. There is currently no structure for placements at plant Oxford, this means you do not know what to expect before starting your internship. There is no official on boarding process for new interns and this can cause delays with gaining building and IT access. I found that I had to take a proactive approach and set my own goals. I think that a basic structure including monthly or quarterly reviews and opportunities for training would be beneficial.
9. In terms of personal training and development, to what extent did the company or firm invest in you?
I did not attend any official training. I attended some interns lectures, these were all organised by interns themselves. I think that the team are given little opportunity for training. When there is something new to learn about team members are sent a power point and they are expected to teach themselves.
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?
Due to the organisation culture and the graduate scheme that BMW offers employment prospects are appealing. I have spoken to some employees on the graduate scheme and they are happy that they chose the scheme. I think the fact that I cannot speak German could limit my career prospects within the company.
12. Was there a good social scene amongst any fellow placement students/colleagues?
There was a large intern community at the plant. We usually met for lunch. There were weekly socials including pub golf, bowling and barbeques. On weekends interns socialised in Oxford or went away to explore somewhere new. We had links with interns at other plants and we did an exchange to visit the interns at Goodwood. At interns meetings the German students often talk to each other in German and do not engage in conversation with the English speaking students.
13. What was the cost of living and socialising in the area you worked in?
The cost of things such as the weekly shop or a night out in Oxford are similar to other parts of the UK. Rent prices are high compared to other parts of the UK.
14. What was the Nightlife like in the area you worked?
Oxford has many restaurants, bars and pubs. Some of the bars have live music events and the O2 Academy is within walking distance from the city centre. The city only has a few clubs.
15. Were there many opportunities to get involved in activities outside of work?
Interns meet every Thursday evening for drinks and hold monthly events. There is a variety of gyms and sports clubs to join.