Summer Intern student in the manufacturing department for Hawk, Typhoon and JSF pipes, sub-assemblies and cold- and hot-form products.
In terms of the company and the internship, it was a fantastic experience and I feel very lucky to have been selected to take part in the scheme. I have seen some fantastic things and created an amazing network of people. I am certainly feeling more positive about my future now that I have some quality experience under my belt. In terms of the grown-up, working life, it was fairly tough at times! Leaving the house at 7am, starting work at 8am, leaving at 5pm or sometimes later, it can all be quite a shock to the system after being a student for so long. However, if you are determined, punctual and well structured then you will be fine. Half-day on Friday and no evenings or weekends in the library makes up for the long day!
I certainly no longer felt like an intern after only a few days of being at the company. This was mainly because of the way that the staff treated me. I was invited to important meetings, meeting important people, discussing important work, all from day one! I was certainly valued which made me feel quite important. I felt like a normal member of staff coming to work every day. This only spurred me on to work hard and achieve my objectives.
There is a fine line between how much support you would like and how much support you should receive. I feel my support was well balanced between these two. It was very important to get that initial steering in the right direction by my line manager(s) but it was even more important to go away and act on it myself. This really impresses a line manager; they shouldn't be 'holding your hand' through the internship. I learned this as the weeks went by. It is important to show continued initiative and not to let the fact that you are only an intern prevent you from seeking people out and getting on with your objectives.
Generally, it depended on how much I wanted to achieve on a certain day. If you wanted to make yourself busy by booking meetings and seeking people out and visiting certain departments, then you could. Sometimes this was a necessity if you wanted to get things done. Days flew by when this was the case. However, if you needed to get on with things on your laptop at your desk, then of course you could. Editing documents, sending emails, Skype calls; these could all easily take a full day when sitting at your desk. Like any business, some days were slower than others and that is just part of the job!
Due to the nature of the business' work (building military aircraft) I was certainly not going to be reinventing the wheel. I knew this when I started. I was assigned 3 main tasks (along with 2 smaller ones) during the internship which appeared to be tasks that were not important enough to be carried out solely by professional staff. However, my work did involve some heavy liaison with professional staff. Again, it is all about showing initiative. You can turn what you think is a boring, unimportant activity into something that will genuinely add value and have significant effect on the business. Ultimately, a summer internship of 12 weeks is just not enough time to be doing something of real importance. It takes about 4 weeks to become fully assimilated with the way things run! I think summer placement students expect this, or at least they should. It really depends on the company.
Personally, I felt that I fit into the working world pretty well from day one. This is because I had already developed a good level of soft skills from experience working in the hospitality and service sectors prior to the internship. So, will having improved soft skills and a better knowledge of how a manufacturing business operates assist me in the last year of my degree? Sure, but not much. Universities introduce group projects to help students improve these soft skills already. I do feel however that these skills will be of paramount importance when I begin work full time and I am fully submerged into this environment.
Pleasant all round. The staff treated me as 'one of their own' and I think we all enjoyed my time at the company. A weekly meeting took place behind my desk where there could now and again be some questionable discussions but this was in the nature of the job and clearly something that I could come to understand with more experience. No staff member acted any differently with me there than they would have had I not been there. I appreciated this,
I was initially a little shocked and consequently nervous when I saw how formal the internship setup was. I was given lots of information packs on the company and the internship programme. I really mean a lot. This makes you feel like you are starting a new job rather than you are just a student doing some work experience, which ultimately is what the summer internship is! However, you soon get used to this and you understand that these things are all necessary. You are classed as a proper employee with an email and a phone number and a work laptop and a pension scheme. The list could go on. It really was quite impressive.
There were initially a lot of meetings and training activities that I was asked to complete. These were a mixture of mandatory, online and offline learning activities and tests including export control, business conduct and health and safety. Were these strictly for me and my personal development? I imagine no, I think they are just standard tests that new employees must take and pass. However, I was encouraged as one of my smaller tasks to go and visit different departments and take in different sides of the business. I managed to see fully assembled aircraft on the ground and in the air as well as numerous, high-tech manufacturing facilities. The company encourage employees, particularly interns, to do things like this which allows you to gain a larger appreciation of the business.
I was assigned a mentor throughout the duration of the internship. He was a real help when it came to answering this type of question because he joined the graduate scheme only 2 years before. He assured me that the graduate development framework (Graduate Scheme) within the company was exciting and well structured. However, one concern we both shared was over the future of the business with regards to the orders of aircraft. If rates decrease, what happens then? I was assured that the company will move people around and keep them and their skills inside the business way before things like redundancy are considered.
With some of my colleagues in the office, we went to the local social club weekly for our lunch and a drink. This was obviously a bit of a ritual amongst the staff onsite. It was nice to be part of this and feel even more involved with the team. However, I rarely saw another intern inside or outside of working hours. The site is so big and we were all so spread out that you wouldn't just 'bump' into them. I also didn't stay in student accommodation like most of the interns because I was fortunate enough to stay with family only a 50-minute drive from the site. So, I really don't know If there was a good social life for other interns.
Again, I was fortunate enough to stay with family only a 50-minute drive from the site. So, I didn't actually stay very close to the site or the other interns. I didn't know of any socialising amongst staff after hours during the working week, apart from one or two members would play in a 5 a side football league once a week. There is a subsidised gym based onsite though, which could be classed as 'socialising' I suppose.
I am told that the area where I worked was not the best for nightlife. The town is fairly rural and not a big place. Again, I didn't really know of any socialising amongst staff after hours during the working week or on the weekend. Where I lived, near Southport, the nightlife and general socialising scene was pretty good.
I didn't know of any socialising amongst staff after hours during the working week, apart from one or two members would play in a 5 a side football league once a week. I suppose I could have asked to get involved, but I feel that a lot of people appreciate time away from colleagues in the evenings to enjoy the company of their family and friends. I respect that and I didn't seek out any activities outside of work, though I did regularly attend the gym based on-site where we would all smile and say hello, if that counts?