I had an excellent and rewarding year at Cognito. The projects and tasks that I worked on were varied and challenging, and my colleagues (both in my immediate team and beyond) were always helpful whenever I required assistance and a pleasure to work with. Overall I really enjoyed my placement year at Cognito.
After an initial few weeks of training activities I was entrusted with the opportunity to work alongside my colleagues on real projects - I wasn't just set irrelevant IP tasks etc.; throughout the rest of the year I always felt that my input and work on these projects was valued and necessary which I really appreciated.
I never felt like there was a moment during my time at Cognito iQ that I couldn't approach my managers/supervisors to ask for assistance with a piece of work I was struggling with, further tasks to work on If I had nothing to do, or just to talk about my future career and the like.
During the first few months there were a few times where I had little to do other than background research on certain clients/projects while I waited for guidance from colleagues who were busy with other tasks. After this period however I was kept busy for the rest of the year with between 1 and 3 varied projects at a time.
I was pleasantly surprised by how much responsibility I was given during my time at Cognito iQ. For one project (to improve a system in place at Cognito), for example, I was entrusted with everything from initial research and presentations to heads of departments, to liaising with representatives from and organising demonstrations with various companies.
During my time at Cognito iQ I was able to work on and practice my time management and project management skills in a real business environment; these skills will come in very useful for both my final year at university (planning and completing my dissertation more easily for example) and future career. My experience working on the GDPR (which came into effect during my time here) will also be well regarded in future.
Both wings of the office at Cognito iQ are open plan and the general atmosphere I found to be fairly relaxed - it's easy to chat with colleagues during downtime. Everyone is very friendly and approachable, if I needed to speak with a colleague from a different department for example it's simply a case of walking across the room and striking up a conversation provided they aren't really busy.
The first week inductions and training sessions were well set up and got me up to speed quickly. My role in the consultancy department didn't really have a set structure, I was introduced to projects and concepts I would utilise throughout the year based on when they appeared/what needed to be completed at the time. This worked for me as I was always kept busy, however I was told that one of the previous placement students was left with little to do/not much variation in tasks as everyone was involved with a large, time-consuming project throughout their time at the company.
A number of colleagues are graduates who have previously completed placement years at Cognito iQ and decided to return after they were offered a job, so this is certainly an option. I would definitely return if a position was available, Cognito iQ would be an excellent start to my graduate career.
There were two company parties during my time at Cognito iQ (one celebrating the company's 25th birthday and a regular Christmas party) and fairly regularly throughout the year emails were sent around inviting colleagues to various social events (for example a beer festival in the town over and a day at the nearby Newbury racecourse.
I decided to live locally in Newbury instead of commuting during the year. I found a house share online using the site SpareRoom which was conveniently around a 10 minute walk from where Cognito iQ was based. For rent, bills, and internet combined I paid £550 a month, certainly a lot more than I paid for the past 2 years at university! The costs of socialising seemed to be fairly standard however.
Newbury is more of a pub area than a club area and I found the nightlife lacking compared to where I go to university (however this is to be expected due to the lack of student presence). Despite this there are currently 2 clubs and most pubs stay open until late, so there is still a nightlife scene available.