1. To what extent did you enjoy your work placement or internship?
I have thoroughly enjoyed my summer Internship. It has been an absolutely fantastic experience with great exposure and networking opportunities. Each attachment was very well structured and diverse, with projects, meetings and events that were highly informative and innovative. The people across the organisation are a delight to work with and the general culture is extremely positive. The eight weeks have flown by which is always a good sign and have provided a great insight into the world of work within a large organisation and the workings of many different HR departments.
2. To what extent did you feel valued by your colleagues?
Across the different attachments, I have worked on a range of projects looking into real-life solutions and scenarios. My opinion and the work I have produced has been highly valued by colleagues and I have had the opportunity to make a difference. Some of our proposals, input and suggestions as Interns, have been considered for future decision making, which truly credits hard work and shows appreciation.
3. To what extent were you given support and guidance by management/your supervisor(s)?
My line manager has been extremely encouraging and helpful. She is a fantastic representative for M&S and knows the organisation inside out, with superb advice and suggestions which enabled me to have the best experience possible. Additionally, the current HR Graduate was very involved and supportive. Everyone across the organisation is friendly and willing to help. Despite everyone being busy, colleagues from many different areas and seniority levels, made the time to meet and discuss their career paths and visions for the future. Everyone I worked with showed a genuine desire for me to excel, enjoy myself, and learn as much as possible from the experience.
4. How busy were you on a daily basis?
The whole experience was busy and there wasn’t a day where I didn’t have a focus or something to work on. There is a lot to fit into the eight weeks and each attachment has their own agenda and project work. Additionally, myself and the other HR Interns had the opportunity to go on work-related trips to Manchester, Leeds, Derby and Northampton, as well as attending workshops on leadership, career management and project management. We also had a collaborative ongoing group project that we presented at the end of the eight weeks which we were able to work towards too.
5. How much responsibility were you given during your placement?
I can honestly say that, despite being an Intern, I was treated like a permanent member of staff. Across the organisation, there is a strong level of trust in employees and responsibility is given from day one. You are given the freedom to manage your days, arrange meetings and tailor your experience to suit your interests.
6. To what extent did/will the skills you developed, and training you received, assist you in your degree studies and beyond?
This internship has helped build upon my commercial awareness and analytical skills, which I can then take back to University with an ability to generate ideas with a broader mind-set. It has led to a greater understanding of a variety of HR functions and how integral HR is to the success of an organisation. Moreover, it has increased my confidence, presentation skills, ability to communicate at all levels, and understanding of business objectives across the wider organisation. Without a doubt, this has fuelled my enthusiasm towards a future HR career with M&S.
7. What was the general atmosphere in your office?
The atmosphere was fantastic! Everyone is open-minded and eager to help at any given opportunity. ‘Smarter working’ has made it easier to meet and work alongside a variety of people and has increased flexibility. Whilst walking around the head office, even people I had only briefly met, would engage in conversation and ask how I was getting on.
8. How well organised was the overall work placement or internship set up?
The Internship was really well organised from start to finish. During the assessment centre, we were asked our preferences with regards to attachment choices and these were arranged prior to our start date. Throughout the Internship, we were able to tailor and adapt our experiences according to our interests by adding extra attachment days in different departments. My personal experience was great, although I am aware that there does need to be consistency, as at times other Interns were in less organised attachments.
9. In terms of personal training and development, to what extent did the company or firm invest in you?
There is a large amount of investment in Early Careers (Internships and Placements etc) due to an awareness of this being potential talent for the future. In addition to building upon my project, presentation and IT skills, my experience included a variety of workshops, as well as a Graduate specific workshop that was highly beneficial. Additionally, we undertook an ‘Insights Test’ which produced personality profiles designed to help us maximise our abilities and strengths individually and on a team basis.
10. What were the perks on your work placement?
Staff Sales/Staff Shop
Working from home
11. How appealing are future employment prospects within the organisation?
As I have mentioned above, the culture at M&S is extremely positive and the people are a delight to work with. During my eight weeks, I genuinely felt I fitted in really well within the organisation and HR function and would be delighted to pursue a future career with M&S. This experience has identified that over time there are many routes to a successful HR career and numerous opportunities along the way.
12. Was there a good social scene amongst any fellow placement students/colleagues?
There was nothing official organised by M&S, however we arranged social events ourselves, mainly with the four HR Interns, but also sometimes the other Interns across the business. This gave us an appreciation of other roles within the company and the differing experiences. There is a large screen/cinema right outside the office that was used to show sporting events and films most evenings which was a lovely touch.
13. What was the cost of living and socialising in the area you worked in?
I was fortunate enough to be able to commute from my family home, but as you would expect from such a central location, the cost of living, travel and socialising is expensive. London has so much to offer so it was great to be located in such a prime spot.
14. What was the Nightlife like in the area you worked?
I often spend time in London and therefore was already aware of a variety of great places nearby. Merchant Square and the surrounding area has a range of bars and restaurants that we went to and if you want to go clubbing, it isn’t far to travel. There are many opportunities for nights out, but you have to go more central.
15. Were there many opportunities to get involved in activities outside of work?
Again, there was no official arrangement of activities outside of work, however as Interns, we arranged meals and drinks ourselves. From speaking to other Graduates and Placement students, it seems the company is able to organise more for those who are there longer, such as annual parties, award nights and company events.