Systems Engineer summer intern working on live projects within BAE Systems MAI Defence Information.
I thoroughly enjoyed my internship with BAE Systems. I was provided with real work from day one and feel like I contributed to the work that my team did. I was given the chance to go offsite to Head Office, sit in meetings to better understand the different teams, and learnt more about computer networking. I expanded my personal and professional network and feel like I've got a better idea of career options now.
My colleagues all treated me like a valuable team member from day one. I was always encouraged to ask if unsure about certain topics or processes, and was guided both by junior and senior members in my team. My manager was very supportive and ensured that I was enjoying the work I doing too. I never once felt like I was just 'the intern' or that no-one valued my skill set - completely the opposite, which was both comforting and inspiring.
My manager sat down with me and discussed objectives for me to achieve by the end of my 12 week internship. These were periodically reviewed and I felt if I had any concerns I could talk to him about them. When I came to the end of a task he made sure I was in contact with the right people to be able to continue with my work and help contribute to the team. He also encouraged me to go and seek out opportunities to learn from other members of the team, which was good for my own personal development and taught me to be more proactive.
Due to the length of my internship, I couldn't be assigned to one long task throughout the internship so instead completed a number of smaller tasks that helped build my knowledge of the business area I worked in. The majority of the time I had enough work to keep me feeling like I'd achieved something by the end of the day. On some occasions however I was less busy, but this was simply due to other team members being very busy and me needing to speak to them about a certain task. It wasn't as if I wasn't given enough work to do.
I was given quite a lot of responsibility on the tasks I was assigned. The tasks were either contributions to one larger piece of work, or they were individual pieces of work that stood alone. BAE Systems gives you the tools to be able to tailor your internship in any way you like, so I made an effort to tailor it so I would have varying degrees of responsibilities depending on my work. This meant I wasn't too pressurized or too relaxed.
Personally, I developed a good routine of getting up early, getting to work, going to the gym coming home and relaxing - something which was a bit more haywire during university! I think the internship gave me a better grasp on my time management at university. Professionally I have learnt much more about computer networking, and I have developed both my presenting and writing skills in a formal environment. I certainly believe the internship gave me a better idea of where I want to be once I graduate and beyond that, and the ability to work in a real team on real projects has been invaluable.
The atmosphere in the office was informal and cheerful, but when work needed to be done it was. The emphasis was on a positive working environment where you could go to someone's desk and ask them a question if they were available. We often all went to lunch at the same time too which meant we could socialize together.
The internship is very much a tailored experience, so it is really what you make of it. I set myself certain objectives to achieve by the end of my internship, and it is up to you to make sure you are proactive in achieving those goals. However my colleagues and manager were very supportive and provided me with the equipment and tools that I needed to achieve them. Prior to starting the internship, everything was set up fine (administration etc) on my first day.
One of my objectives was to learn more about the company and various teams that worked within it, and as such my manager was committed to making sure that I did so. Midway through my internship he kept asking how I was finding the internship and at the end of my internship he asked me what I'd learnt from each of the different teams. This is only one example but I think it shows that the company is invested in supporting you, even on something as small as this.
They are very appealing. The company is the biggest employer of professional engineers in the UK, and as such I have seen that they place a lot of emphasis on personal training and development of their employees. I will be applying to the graduate scheme as I believe I can see myself within the company, and I would like to be professionally registered as an engineer.
Unfortunately there was only one other intern at the site with me at the same time and they lived further away from the site than I could travel to, so I didn't see them often outside work. However colleagues were very sociable both at lunch and in the office generally, and we went out for a meal at the end of my internship and a few times for lunch.
The area I was living in was very rural and quiet, and you needed a car to travel around a lot as public transport was minimal. Unfortunately I can't drive so this was an issue for me. The cost of living is quite high, with rents averaging £400-£500 per month, so again this was quite high with what I had been used to coming from Leeds.
I didn't go out much whilst on my internship so can't comment on this.
I didn't get involved with many activities outside of work so again can't comment much.