1. To what extent did you enjoy your work placement or internship?
I very much enjoyed my internship with BAE Systems. I undertook a wide variety of work, some of which was stretching, and I could see that my work was useful to the project. The team were friendly and welcoming, and the HR support was good. I also got to attend a training course and conference, experiences that others may not have got to have.
2. To what extent did you feel valued by your colleagues?
The team made me feel very welcome from day one. I was given work with real impact early on, which gave me a challenge to get my teeth into and prove my abilities. My thoughts and opinions were listened too, and I was made to feel like a valued resource: for example working with a separate team on a time sensitive task. The designs I produced were not academic exercises, but useful products which were used for testing or improvement.
3. To what extent were you given support and guidance by management/your supervisor(s)?
My placement manager initially gave me packages of work to do, but as the internship moved forward I took on responsibility from other senior members of the team. Support was always forthcoming, especially from Jack Daeth, the team design authority. All members of the team were very willing to answer any questions or give me guidance if required, so little steering was required from my placement manager.
4. How busy were you on a daily basis?
For the first week, I was not particularly busy, as I was waiting for IT services to become available to me. This was slightly frustrating, but from the second week to the penultimate week of the internship I have consistently had a good amount of work to do. I have never found myself making up the hours with pointless tasks or clock watching. Neither has the work ever felt "too much" or become stressful.
5. How much responsibility were you given during your placement?
I was given a lot of responsibility during my internship with BAE Systems. The parts I designed were for live products or prototypes for products coming to market, not just academic exercises or practice. Some of my analysis work formed part of a presentation to the project customer. I worked with minimal supervision, and trusted to get my parts manufactured without an extensive review to check my work.
6. To what extent did/will the skills you developed, and training you received, assist you in your degree studies and beyond?
During my time at BAE Systems, the primary skill I developed was product design, both in the sense that I learned a new software package, but also I practiced designing for manufacture. This will be a useful skill in my future career, not only in the obvious sense but also thinking analytically about the work I am producing: will it be easy for the next person to understand? Am I making the design intent clear? Can I improve the communication of this document/drawing? So the communication skills I developed will be useful, but other than this there were no particular skills I feel I improved.
7. What was the general atmosphere in your office?
The atmosphere was generally very good, not too loud but my colleagues were social and always up for a chat. Placing me next to the graduate in the team was really helpful, as the common "new starter" questions were quickly answered. There was no hierarchy or cliques in the office, and everyone was very supportive and willing to lend a hand or opinion if asked.
8. How well organised was the overall work placement or internship set up?
The organisation for the internship was mixed. Prior to the internship, the only issue was that I applied for a systems roles, interviewed on that basis and got the place, then arrived to be told I was being given a mechanical place. This was not an issue, and understandable given that my degree is mechanical, but there was no communication of this prior to starting. The buddy system was well meaning, but not that well organised, as my buddy was on a different team, and most of the questions I would have asked them I ended up asking the graduate sat next to me. The IT organisation was poor, with essential software unavailable till the third week of my 12 week internship.
9. In terms of personal training and development, to what extent did the company or firm invest in you?
I was allowed to go on a radar training course on the Isle of Wight, and due to my long commute I was put up in a hotel for the 2 day course. This was unexpected and gratefully received, and indicative of the commitment the company has to early careers.
10. What were the perks on your work placement?
11. How appealing are future employment prospects within the organisation?
The graduate development framework is clearly well thought out, tried and tested. It is a shame that the pay scale for engineering does not reflect the calibre of graduate they seek to employ. I have seen that there is plenty of opportunity to move about and experience different parts of the business.
12. Was there a good social scene amongst any fellow placement students/colleagues?
Plenty of opportunity to socialise with the other summer interns, industrial placements and graduates. All the early careers employees mixed and it didn't feel like there were castes or exclusive groups.
13. What was the cost of living and socialising in the area you worked in?
Portsmouth is fairly expensive, being as it is a tourist town on the south coast. Gunwharf Keys is a nice shopping district with a wide range of shops and places to eat and drink, but certainly an expensive part of town. Albert Road is the cheaper strip of bars and pubs, and the socialising hub for local students.
14. What was the Nightlife like in the area you worked?
Good but not special.
15. Were there many opportunities to get involved in activities outside of work?
Good opportunities to get involved in STEM engagement activities, which made a nice change from work and was personally inspiring.