I worked on the science behind e-liquids and e-cigarettes, aerosols and materials.
Quite honestly, the best year of university for me. I’ve loved working in a business where everyone is so friendly and kind. It is a sociable and modern environment. The labs are right next to the office and for me it was a nice balance between lab and office work. There are 10 other students and so many other graduates who love to socialise inside and outside work. The placement programme was well organised and there was constant progression with my work.
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I was a full member of my team and was always listened to. People would often ask me for help throughout the year just like anyone else and my work contributed to the business in multiple ways. I was also asked to be involved in a few research papers and contributed a lot to them.
I was given a lot of support. My manager told me a lot about business and my team. Throughout the year I worked with a lot of different people who all gave me support and guidance and I never ever encountered someone who wasn’t happy to answer a question I had. There is a student placement team so any questions to do with the placement and they would be there to help. I also had a mentor from a different area of the business who helped with CV/cover letter/interview skills and became a good friend and who knew a lot about other areas of the business. At the beginning of the placement we also had lots of ‘inteoductions’ to different areas of the business to learn how BAT works. Throughout the year I was trained by at least 7 different external companies on analytical machines/techniques and business aspects such as project fundamentals and how to ‘lead yourself’ as well as training within the company. This meant I was completely confident with using analytical machines and could train others also.
I would say I had a good level of work to do. There were occasional times where I didn’t have much or had a lot to do but it never got stressful and I could always ask for more work. Overall I could plan my time how I wanted and there were few specific deadlines with my projects as they were my own work. Occasionally there was business critical work but I feel that’s normal for any company. I enjoyed being able to plan my time how I wanted, with a mix of lab work and desk based work.
So much responsibility, but gradually over time. It never felt daunting as it slowly increased. I was left to do my own work which I enjoyed. I was given opportunities to set up my own studies with an external lab and process/present the data, and as responibility increased I was able to use my own choice of external lab, against recommendation, as I was able to show why it had a better method for the specific analysis I needed. This data was very important for business need some as well as research and development. My work contributed to both throughout the year.
I developed many skills outside of my studies which can be applied to any job. The training I received throughout the year is highly valuable for me as I now have a full ear experience with HPLC, GC, XRF, FT-IF, infra red camera, CD, which are all incredibly useless for my future career in analytical chemistry. I have definitely learnt a lot from the year.
It was modern and sociable. Everyone is friendly and people chat at each other’s desks. I absolutely loved the atmosphere, it wasn’t too loud or too quiet. There are lots of young people and you can have coffee breaks whenever. It’s quite relaxed, but you can still work very well in the environment. There are 5 main labs on my floor, all are modern and they don’t have many people in, max would be about 5-6 at any one time. This was appreciated as at uni they’re so crowded. So you get to know people in labs and everyone says hello :)
The placement team have had a lot of experience over 15+ years to tailor the placement. This means they are SO well organised and always take on board suggestions. 2 months before the placement we had a ‘pre-placement’ day in Southampton to meet current students, look round, learn a bit about what I will do, find a house with other students and went for dinner in the evening which was such a nice 2 days. At the start there are many ‘introduction’ presentations to attend on different areas of the business and there’s also a two day event at London headquarters and Southampton. We also went to the Cambridge site to see what they do. We had a quiz at the beginning to talk to many employees around the business and a community volunteering day. Throughout the year we had training and help on lots of things like CV and interview skills workshop, presentation skills etc. They also ask us to organise events that were very useful. We also have a few catchups throughout the year just to see how we’re doing.
The company have heavily invested in me. I have been on Ann external 2 day training course as well as at least 6 different companies training me, some I asked for and some they offered. There are also many training courses for everyone throughout the year on business related things. Honestly I’ve been shocked at the amount they have invested in me and am incredibly grateful, it hasn’t been invaluable and I have been able to give a lot more input into scientific business related aspects because of them. I can now train new employees on lots of methods because of them also. I have been trained by companies such as Agilent, Applied Photophysics, Niton UK, Citi.
At the end of the placement there is an interview for a graduate job. This job is a grade above a normal graduate job so offers a far more competitive salary compared to other companies, specifically for placement students. If you have done well throughout the year you have a good chance of getting a job. There are many old students back at BAT.
Absolutely. There’s 11 students in total and I live with 4 of them. We all meet up outside of work a lot, and also go out with other colleagues. I live in a student area so there are lots of bars close by. Previously mentioned there are tonnes of young people here and everyone is very social.
My rent is £350 a month, this is very manageable with the salary, and for the south of England Southampton is quite cheap. I’m terms of socialising it depends on where you go but overall it’s not expensive, similar to other cities.
There are a lot of clubs and bars. There’s an area called bedford place that is worth living near as it has many different clubs/bars all in that area.
For men I would say there are more as there is a football 5 aside and cricket in summer but for woman not so much. You have to talk to people about it to see what they’re doing and at involved yourself.