(Salary range that is selected takes into account base salary and monthly housing allowance)
1. To what extent did you enjoy your work placement or internship?
I enjoyed the placement a lot due to various factors. I experienced the software development process in an industrial setting, and worked with a modern technology stack. I had the opportunity to work together with the team on commercial projects, as well as work on standalone tasks. Taking initiative and ownership was welcomed. Besides that, I got to know or work with many intelligent and nice people, and made some good friends.
2. To what extent did you feel valued by your colleagues?
There was mutual respect among colleagues, regardless of rank or position. Whether in technical or in non-technical discussions, I felt my involvement was welcomed. My preferences on how I want to shape my internship, what kind of tasks I want to try, etc. were taken into account. Sometimes I had doubts about myself and wondered whether or not I was contributing, but they would show that they value my work.
3. To what extent were you given support and guidance by management/your supervisor(s)?
My colleagues, buddies, and manager were very supportive in technical as well as non-technical aspects. Officially, I had 2 buddies/mentors but in reality the entire team as well as the team next door were all very helpful. However, for software interns, there is no structured training or fixed guideline on what would be helpful to learn about. This is because teams may differ greatly, and a lot of things are learnt on the job as we go along.
4. How busy were you on a daily basis?
There were always things to do, but I did not feel pressured. I could manage my own time and there was flexibility in terms of taking up tasks, as long as I was able to deliver. The 9–to-5 workday could pass very quickly. Apart from coding and debugging, there might also be meetings, talks by internal or external speakers, poster presentations, etc.
5. How much responsibility were you given during your placement?
I worked on the front end as well as back end of cloud / web applications. I was given the opportunity to do new things that I had no prior experience in. Apart from standalone / intern projects, they let me contribute to projects that they were actively developing. Understandably, I was not assigned super critical / time-sensitive tasks.
6. To what extent did/will the skills you developed, and training you received, assist you in your degree studies and beyond?
Cloud and web application development skills and use of open source technologies are useful and relevant, especially if I were to become a programmer/software engineer in the future. I had honed my technical as well as soft skills, gaining confidence to remain in the STEM field. I gained insights into how the software development process works in an industrial setting, and this will add perspectives to how I approach problems in studies and also what to expect in my career in the future.
7. What was the general atmosphere in your office?
Atmosphere was friendly. I did not have to speak in soft whispers when talking to a colleague because everyone spoke openly and freely. There was a tradition of bringing chocolates or snacks to share whenever someone has a birthday, is back from vacation, or any occasion that can become an excuse to share food. We can simply pop by one another’s desks to discuss issues .
8. How well organised was the overall work placement or internship set up?
Different aspects of the placement were organised by different people/teams. A recruiter for REMS (research, engineering, manufacturing, sustaining) was very helpful in letting me understand more about the work prior to the interview. She also coordinated the interview, feedback, outcome, etc. very efficiently as I had time pressure to reply my university about my placement. The work that I do was not planned or organised very long ago; most of it was learnt-as-I-go.
9. In terms of personal training and development, to what extent did the company or firm invest in you?
The firm pays for certain online courses for employees who are undergoing technical training to proceed with their promotion. For interns, the was no such scheme, but the company did pay for my hours and I could use those hours for self learning that was required/useful for my work. After I asked the UX designer about UX, usability, and resources to learn them, the team bought a book on usability for the ‘library shelf’ whereby team members can borrow books or resources for personal learning. There were also the general resources that could be accessed online from the company hub so that we could learn more about the oil and gas domain or other information. There are special interest groups and guilds that share knowledge face-to-face as well as online.
10. What were the perks on your work placement?
Sports and Social Club
11. How appealing are future employment prospects within the organisation?
The company offers good benefits, including matching your pension 1:1, discounted price for buying the company’s shares, healthcare (for permanent staff). The oil and gas industry offers a lot of interesting challenges that we can create solutions for. The company is also partnering with various big names to utilise the most effective and modern technologies to create new software products. This is a rather traditional industry, but the company is trying to make changes with its digital transformation roadmap. I was offered a job (for after I graduate in a year’s time) but I am considering doing my PhD before going into industry.
12. Was there a good social scene amongst any fellow placement students/colleagues?
I went for drinks as well as barbecues with colleagues. The interns also bonded through official events like the Interns’ Day or mini Hackathon, as well as lunch and casual outings. I happened to have made some good friends who are nice and sincere, and we will definitely keep in contact.
13. What was the cost of living and socialising in the area you worked in?
Pretty standard cost of living and socialising, I guess. Public transport in Oxfordshire is actually more expensive than I expected; the distance covered isn't that much but the fare is not low.
14. What was the Nightlife like in the area you worked?
I am not a clubbing person, so for me 'nightlife' is like dinner and drinks. Of course, I'm used to having more choices in London, but Abingdon and Oxford offer some nice pubs and places too.
15. Were there many opportunities to get involved in activities outside of work?
Milton Park has some events now and then. There was BBQ in the summer, free breakfast for those who cycle to work on a certain day, etc. Fellow colleagues and interns go to the pop-up food stalls nearby weekly, and organise activities among ourselves.