I have had the best year on placement, helped greatly by the team I was working with and the in-house agency. Everyone at Toyota is so friendly and are keen to help the students learn and develop throughout their time on placement. The tasks I was given gave me an insight into what it is like to work in a large company.
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My team were genuinely like a little family to me, especially as I had moved so far from my real family. My colleagues treated me as a normal employee, and the role of the student is valued by all employees within the company. They all respect and appreciate the work of the student.
My manager was great at giving me support both at work and with any issues happening outside of work. Although I changed managers during my placement, I was fully supported by the rest of my team for the month that I had no manager. My manager set up fortnightly development sessions alongside my weekly 1:1's to discuss any development/ learning opportunities.
At the start of my placement I sometimes didn't have that much to do, however as I developed and gained trust amongst my colleagues I was given more work to do. Sometimes this got quite overwhelming however my manager was really good at helping me prioritise my work to ensure that I was kept busy but that it didn't get on top of me.
Towards the middle and end of my placement I was given a fair amount of responsibility. However, my job role is quite limiting as to the amount of responsibility a student can have as a lot of the work needs to be overseen by those higher up. I was happy with the amount of responsibility I had towards the end of my placement.
I have learnt both personal and software skills whilst on placement. Toyota are really good at giving students training opportunities and I did both an excel course and a presentation skills course which helped me greatly during my time on placement. My inter personal skills have been greatly developed over the year and these will help greatly when going back to Uni.
The general atmosphere within the office is a bit old fashioned, however within my wing of the office it is a little more fun. This is helped by the in-house agency being down my wing as they dress a lot more casually than the rest of the office and have created a more relaxed environment.
The placement was pretty well organised, we had an induction day a few months before placement started and we were all put in a whatsapp group so could talk to each other before we started. One criticism is that we were told when we got the placement that we would just be going against fellow students for the grad scheme at the end of placement. This has since changed during my time on placement which is quite demotivating.
The company invested a lot of time and money into training and development opportunities for the students. They seemed to really care about the development of the students and there was a huge amount of training available. It was very easy to request to be on the courses, however there were a few courses I had requested to go on near the start of the year that I still didn't get to go on.
The company seems to be a good one to work for, however if you like a particular area of the business it is hard to progress in your career without working within different areas of the business. The grad scheme is also a rotation one so you will work in different areas of the business and it also doesn't cater for areas like legal or finance.
At the start of placement we had a lot of social events as a big group, including rounder's matches, going to the cinema and nights out. This continued throughout the year, but smaller groups of friends were formed. The social scene with fellow students was one of the best parts of placement and that's what made it such an enjoyable year.
Coming from the North I knew the South would be more expensive but it meant that we didn't go out that much because everything is so expensive. Paying for rent, bills, car, fuel, food etc with a student wage meant there wasn't much money left at the end of the month to go out socialising.
The nightlife in Epsom isn't great, but Kingston and Clapham which are a bit further out were quite good for nights out. There also isn't much of a 'pub culture' after work due to the office being a bit in the middle of nowhere and people having to drive home.
There is a sports and social club which allowed you to get involved in activities outside of work, however this didn't happen as frequently as I thought it would. There were a few team away days during the week which allowed us to get involved in other activities with our team which was enjoyable.