I had a brilliant year at BMW UK, where I became an integral part of the Product Marketing team and was given real responsibilities. The tasks I was given were very varied and I got to work with people across a broad range of departments. Everyone is very supportive of Placement Students and this can be felt in everyday working. I never felt anxious to ask someone for help or to approach someone within another department. In addition, the 'What moves you' culture within BMW Group UK, provided a friendly and relaxed atmosphere in which to work. There is a close-knit community of placement students at BMW which was great for going out outside of work.
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With my direct team consisting of just four people including myself, I was quickly made to feel like an integral part of my team. Over my year I was given more responsibility as I developed, and freed up time for my colleagues by taking on tasks which previously they would have completed themselves. It was great that over the year my team had the confidence in me to allow me more autonomy with tasks and to include me in more significant decisions.
I felt very at ease within my team and therefore felt I could ask for help and support whenever I needed it. Whilst I had scheduled monthly catch-ups with my manager, it was the freedom to seek out help whenver I needed it which I appreciated the most. Even on days where I was the only one from my team in the office, I always felt I could ask for help from the wider Product Marketing Team and from colleagues in other departments. It was nice to have a more formal support network with a development plan which was agreed with my manager, alongside a more adhoc support system whereby I could ask for help as and when I needed it.
Like any job, the day-to-day workflow varied but as an average I was busy the majority of the time. With the management of a large fleet of vehicles being one of my primary responsibilities, there was always car movements and bookings to monitor and prepare for. In addition, there was usually a steady flow of emails each day which I needed to react to. On some days the level of work was pretty full on with a large quantity of emails to respond to alongside multiple fleet bookings. I therefore had to develop strong time management skills in order to prioritise my work and to make sure I responded to emails promptly.
Within my immediate team I feel I was given a high level of responsibility which increased across the year as my team's confidence in my ability grew. With regards to the management of our product fleet of vehicles, I was handed full responsibility. It was up to me to inform the team of the status and location of vehicles and to alert them as to when vehicles required de-fleeting. I was also given further responsibilities across the year.
My year at BMW UK has provided me with a broad range of skills which I will be able to take forward to assist with my degree studies and for my future career beyond university. My strong time management skills will greatly help when managing my workload in final year. In addition, having spent a year working in a large business, I have a greater understanding of how a large business operates and makes decisions and how different factors impact it. This will hopefully mean my understanding of how theory relates to the real world will be strengthened in final year.
The atmosphere at BMW UK is very relaxed and welcoming. BMW Group UK's 'What moves you' culture provides a very modern workplace. Pretty much all staff 'hotdesk' meaning no one has a set place that they sit each day. Not only does this provide a very clear and uncluttered workspace, it also provides a great opportunity to get to know more people across the business as in theory you can sit anywhere. I very rarely sat together with all of my team, which at times was frustrating, however overall I definitely valued the freedom that hotdesking offered and the chance it provided to get to know more people. There is also a very relaxed approach towards working hours at BMW UK. This was great for me as I had a fairly long commute and it allowed me to come into work early and to then leave early in order to avoid some of the traffic. However, on days where I needed to arrive into the office slightly later, I also had the freedom to do this. The flexible approach to working is something I valued greatly.
BMW UK has recruited placement students for a number of years and this shows in the set up. There is a well established process in place with a great support network for placement students at the company. Everyone within the business is used to working with placement students which means as a student you are not treated any differently to other employees. However, everyone is also very willing to help and is understanding that for the first few months at least, you are still learning and may need extra support. The one area of the process which was a slight let down was the initial contact with HR once I had been offered the role. Whilst I had verbal confirmation of my offer of employment as well as an email from my future manager, the actual contract took months to come through. Whilst I was confident that I had definitely secured the role, especially as I had email confirmation, it was bit disconcerting that the contract took so long to arrive.
There were multiple opportunities for personal development during my time at BMW. Thorugh meetings with my manager I was able to identify what training opportunities were available to me and which ones I wanted to sign up to.
BMW UK run a 'SpeedUp' scheme which is designed to ease the process of returning to the company after university. This is something you can apply for during your placement year and you are then assessed against the fellow placement students in an assessment centre. I have secured a place on this scheme so I am looking forward to returning to the company after university. Whilst I will not know what positions are available to me for a number of months, having experienced the flexible culture at BMW and having witnessed the ease with which people can move around the group, including spending time abroad, I am confident that BMW Group is the place I would like to pursue my future career.
With approximately 20 placement students, there a is a good social scene amongst the students. There is a variation of students living at home and others living together in houses close to the office. This did make it tricky to arrange whole group get togethers, but overall all the students got on really well and there were multiple nights out.
As I lived at home and commuted into work, I didn't have to worry too much about the cost of living in the area. However, having spoken to fellow students, Farnborough and the surrounding areas are fairly expensive. Depending on which area they live in, just under half of their monthly income goes on rent.
The nightlife around Farnborough isn't great. There is one club in Fleet called MooMoo's which we tried to go to but were turned away due to none of us having 'local' addresses on our I.Ds. However, if you travel a bit further to Reading then there is a lot more going on, and obviously London isn't that far on the train.
There are a number of activities which run outside of work including football, circuits, a running club, cycling club, rock choir and others.