1. To what extent did you enjoy your work placement or internship?
I enjoyed my work placement to some extent. There were definitely times in the year where I was bored and didn't have much work to do, but I had a good relationship with my manager so those issues were addressed and somewhat rectified. Also, I was given a lot of freedom and autonomy in my role which made my year more enjoyable. Overall however, I felt most often bored, unchallenged, and uninspired by the company and workforce. In the second half of my placement year I did find myself giving up on the company and looking to add value elsewhere.
2. To what extent did you feel valued by your colleagues?
My role was new when I started, and so I received very little on-boarding/training at the start of my placement year. Hence, I didn't feel very warmly welcomed to the company. Further to that, where my role sat in the organisation did not afford me a direct team, so spent most of the year working alone and liaising with people remotely.
3. To what extent were you given support and guidance by management/your supervisor(s)?
I was well supported and mentored by my manager. We had a good working relationship from the beginning and I felt I could speak freely about work and any personal issues affecting my work. I was treated with respect and valued by my manager. I was often pushed to pursue projects I was personally interested in and develop my skills.
4. How busy were you on a daily basis?
Not busy at all. The difference between the workloads I am used to from school and university compared this role was really shocking. This meant I could spend time as I wanted, when there was no work coming in. I did take the initiative to pursue more work and motivate myself to research around my work so I was still productive, but as the year went on I eventually lost interest because it was not challenging.
5. How much responsibility were you given during your placement?
I was given some responsibility... Mostly I was given responsibility for my own placement. The work I was given had value, but was ultimately relatively unimportant and often not time sensitive. This was really demotivating. On the bright side, I was granted a lot of autonomy in my role, so I was responsible for my own development and learning.
6. To what extent did/will the skills you developed, and training you received, assist you in your degree studies and beyond?
One of the most valuable skills I developed further was in Excel. However, this training was not delivered by the company, but it was instead self-taught and/or learned from other interns. I do believe working for this company has also been a valuable experience in terms of learning about the corporate business world. I have now been privy to office politics and challenges following large organisational change. This knowledge will help me with making career decisions beyond my studies.
7. What was the general atmosphere in your office?
The office I was based in was on most days very quiet. It was like walking into a public library -totally silent and people generally keeping to themselves.On busier days, people would come into the office and put on their headsets to join Skype meetings or seclude themselves in private meeting rooms. The office was not a very welcoming place where I felt I could introduce myself to my neighbor. I would say hello to some colleagues in passing but that might be my only interaction in the office for a day. Only when there were large events going on did the office feel a bit more lively.
8. How well organised was the overall work placement or internship set up?
I started at this company thinking I was doing a completely different role from what I ended up doing. Thankfully this worked out in my favour, but this was not communicated to me before starting. I had very few responsibilities in my job role, which did mean I could design the role myself, which is good for me as an individual -but I cannot give the company much credit for organizing my year.
9. In terms of personal training and development, to what extent did the company or firm invest in you?
I feel like I received very little formal training and the company invests little into placement interns. I was definitely under utilized. I actually asked people to give me more work or if I could help with anything, but no one took the time to actually get back to me. By the second half of the year I didn't want to waste my time looking to add value to the company because I felt I was getting nothing in return.
10. What were the perks on your work placement?
Working from home
11. How appealing are future employment prospects within the organisation?
Not appealing to me at all, but I can see why they might be appealing to others. Historically, it seems that HPE still operates with the model that starting in a junior position and staying with the company for a long time can result in individuals eventually reaching senior management positions.
12. Was there a good social scene amongst any fellow placement students/colleagues?
It was okay. I made some good friends on this placement year and did spend time with them outside of work. What I did appreciate in terms of the intern cohort was the gender diversity -there was about equal ratio male to female. Everyone I came across in my year's cohort were really nice and friendly.
13. What was the cost of living and socialising in the area you worked in?
I decided to live at home to save myself the cost of renting a place, which in London would have been very expensive. Living costs and socializing outside of work events was quite expensive. Socializing with colleagues was very cheap as the company would cover the cost of drinks at work events which happened every few months. Intern socials were not covered by the company so I did not attend too many of these. When I did though, it was not too expensive going out in Reading.
14. What was the Nightlife like in the area you worked?
The London nightlife is fantastic as long as you can afford it, and live either on a night tube line or quite centrally. It is quite expensive to go out for food and drinks, but there are so many places to choose from... I did not go out much with colleagues. I mostly met up with university friends after work.
15. Were there many opportunities to get involved in activities outside of work?
There are many opportunities to get involved with in London -there are always events, conferences, concerts, classes etc. going on outside of work. There is not much, however, that the company offers/recommends/advertises so it is entirely up to the individual to seek and find. There were some volunteering activities advertised, but they were quite infrequent.