1. To what extent did you enjoy your work placement or internship?
I found the internship with Standard Life really enjoyable. From day one everyone was very friendly and made an effort to include me within the team. I enjoyed the work I was given and enjoyed coming to work over the 10 weeks. Of the internships I have done, this been the one I most enjoyed, due to the culture and atmosphere within the office.
2. To what extent did you feel valued by your colleagues?
As I was given a piece of work with clear business impact the work I was doing was valued within the team. The appreciated that I would have skills gained at university that may be different and beneficial to those within the team. Everyone within the business, no matter how busy they were, were more than happy to sit with you and explain what they did and how they got to their current position.
3. To what extent were you given support and guidance by management/your supervisor(s)?
I was given as much support as I needed. On the work side of things, I was left to run with my project as I saw fit, without being over managed. This allowed me to input my own ideas and put my own spin on things. But whenever I needed advice or help, my supervisor/other team members were more than willing to help. We were also assigned a buddy within the company to help you with things outwith your day to day job.
4. How busy were you on a daily basis?
I found I was the right level of busy for the internship. It was important for me to set out a plan within the first couple of weeks to ensure that my project remained on track and I completed it before my finish date. This ensured that I was not overly stressed within the last few weeks but had a steady workload throughout. I was never bored with nothing to do but I never had to work more than my 35 hours a week to get my work done.
5. How much responsibility were you given during your placement?
I was given a fair amount of responsibility. The project I was assigned had real impact within the team I was working within. I was also given a lot of freedom to make changes and improvements as I saw fit. Although this was quite daunting to begin with, I believe this allowed me to properly showcase the skills and knowledge that I had/gained during the summer.
6. To what extent did/will the skills you developed, and training you received, assist you in your degree studies and beyond?
I believe the skills have been invaluable. I spent a lot of time coding in VBA during my internship, something that I had never really covered at university. I was given the time to learn it myself, even if it did take me longer than someone else may have taken. I now feel much more confident working with programmes such as excel, and feel I better know how to approach problems in coding and how to solve them. My internship also gave me a much better appreciation of what a career as an actuary could be like.
7. What was the general atmosphere in your office?
The atmosphere in the office was great, it was very relaxed and friendly. The dress code is 'dress for your day ahead' with Fridays being dress down, which made for a relaxed environment. Instead of emailing, there was a big culture in going and speaking to people face to face. Everyone made an effort to include me and made me feel welcome.
8. How well organised was the overall work placement or internship set up?
The internship was on the whole well organised. it started with a half day induction and then about one intern event a week. I found this enough as it allowed me to get on with my project and find out what working within the company would truly be like. The company also made a clear effort to ally our concerns due to the vast changes Standard Life are currently going through.
9. In terms of personal training and development, to what extent did the company or firm invest in you?
Standard Life made a big effort to give the interns as full an insight as possible into the business and what your future chosen career could look like. All the training that I received helped me for my project, but will also be skills I can take forward and will help me in future roles.
10. What were the perks on your work placement?
Staff Sales/Staff Shop
11. How appealing are future employment prospects within the organisation?
Even with the major changes that Standard Life are currently going through, we were told from the outset on the actuary scheme that should we perform up to their standards during the summer then there would be the offer of a graduate role. During the application process the intern applicants are assessed against the same criteria as the graduate applicants.
12. Was there a good social scene amongst any fellow placement students/colleagues?
Standard Life put up interns who live outwith a certain distance in apartments 10 minutes away from the offices. This enabled there to be a good social scene amongst the interns. The grads also joined for a night out mid way through the internship. Within my team there was quite a good social scene, with many lunches out and drinks in the evening.
13. What was the cost of living and socialising in the area you worked in?
Edinburgh is probably one of the most expensive places in Scotland to live, but is not ridiculously expensive. There are many bars and clubs which are fairly cheap and lots of free shows and entertainment. the office is right in the centre of the city so there is lots of shops and places to eat and drink within 5 minutes of the offices.
14. What was the Nightlife like in the area you worked?
Edinburgh nightlife is great, lots of great bars and clubs to explore. These range from some expensive cocktails bars to your cheap and cheerful! Many of these offer student discount so it is always worth asking. Also during August there is the Fringe festival which has plenty of shows, some of which are free, to go explore and see.
15. Were there many opportunities to get involved in activities outside of work?
I would say there were a few opportunities to get involved in outside work. There were a few young Person Development Network events during the summer that you could go along to. 10 weeks is not a long time to get involved in things, but there are other clubs within Standard Life.