The placement year was an incredible experience which has provided me with an invaluable insight into the world of process engineering, as well as what it is like to work within a multi-million dollar global company. The quality of work was unparalleled, and I have made many friends both in work and outside.
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Each and every colleague on site, whether a manager, supervisor, or operator, has made me feel incredibly welcome, and they have all made the effort to get to know me. I felt part of the team from day one, and as I am located on a smaller plant, I have been able to get to know everyone really well, and I look forward to one day continuing my professional relationship with them.
Whether from my direct supervisor or another manager from a different department, they have all been on hand and willing to help with any projects, queries, or personal development opportunities that I have come across throughout the year. They have all also known when to step back and allow me to take lead or find my own way, and not micromanaging me.
As with any project dependent job, there will be days where everything happens at once, and days where you're stuck in limbo waiting for things to move forward that are out of your control. However, I have always been able to split my time depending on what projects need work, and there has always been something to do, whether it is data analysis, prep work for future projects or making use of my 15%.
I was able to take lead on a number of different projects throughout the site and the placement year, able to pick my teams, organise my own meetings and provide regular plans for moving forward and the updates that went with them. I have also been part of other teams, being tasked with certain objectives that needed to be completed successfully within a time frame, while having access to any and all information needed to complete the projects and the expertise of others on site, without them completing things for me.
The amount of time, energy, and resources that 3M has invested in me is something I never would have expected, with extensive training courses used every day in my standard role, as well as a multitude of online resources for expanded development and personal improvement, with a whole host of webinars delivered by leaders in their respected fields on how to develop and improve ones overall quality of life.
I was/am located in an office with my direct supervisor and head of maintenance, and as such it was a working office. Naturally there were discussions, clashes of opinions and different viewpoints, but my colleagues are close friends and made me feel exceptionally welcome. We got on well and often joked and laughed at each other or anything that cropped up.
I was provided with everything I needed from Day 1, they were full geared up and were expecting me on-site, and I was connected to servers, email and other essential services almost immediately. They were also prepared for my arrival within payroll, and there was no delay in expenses or salary.
As previously mentioned, there was a huge variety of training courses throughout the year, the content of which I have used near every day, and there were multiple other sources for development material, from online courses, collective training days with other IP students and graduates, as well as seminars and webinars on both work and life hacks to make life that much better.
There is a graduate program well developed within the company, and having been a placement student, I will be known throughout the company, and while I won't necessarily be a shoe in for a job, I will have a much better chance due to the reputation I have earned myself throughout my year with the company.
Due to my location on a small plant, I was the youngest on site by quite a number of years. The plant still had a sports and social, so I still spent time with my colleagues outside of work on occasion, though it was unfortunate there was no-one my own age. This was very different in some of the other plants, with IP numbers ranging from 4-10. There were still a number of opportunities for me to meet and spend time with these other students on a semi regular basis.
As I was the only IP on site, I wasn't sharing a house or anything like that, and I was living in a tidy little place. I'm afraid that growing up outside of the UK I have very little knowledge of housing prices, so I don't have a frame of reference on the cost of living. I was able to make a number of friends outside of work due to similar interests, and will be keeping in touch when I leave.
I couldn't really say. Personally, I couldn't think of anything worse than a night out, however there were a number of tidy pubs, as is to be expected anywhere within the UK, and I believe there were a couple of clubs in town. It is not considered the nicest of areas, but I didn't find that to be the case at all. Situated between Cardiff and Swansea, it's not difficult to hop onto a train and travel to either location for an evening.
Multiple gyms, sports clubs or other social activities. Some required a little bit of searching, but there are often notice boards up in local gyms, library's or other social areas advertising different clubs and social groups. Walking was a big pastime, up through the valleys, through the mumbles, or along a beach down in Porthcawl.