1. To what extent did you enjoy your work placement or internship?
The placement proved useful as an insight into what it is like working for a large corporation, however due to the size of Network Rail, my opportunity to participate in a wide variety of projects was rather limited. Network Rail as the 'client managers' for the government worked mostly in management rather than consulting or design.
2. To what extent did you feel valued by your colleagues?
During the year I worked within 2 teams, one within The Quadrant, The Network Rail Headquarters for 6 months, and on secondment in The Anglia Route for 5 months in order to gain more hands on experience. I felt more a part of the team on secondment than in The Quadrant, which was due to the team atmosphere being better.
3. To what extent were you given support and guidance by management/your supervisor(s)?
I had 3 managers, a Line Manager who ensured I had no personal issues working within the company (bullying, achieving chartership objectives etc) whom was good at her job. A host manager in Anglia Route who taught me technically what was required of the job, and a Host manager in The Quadrant who was not a good 'teacher' and whom I did not learn much from.
4. How busy were you on a daily basis?
I found myself either extremely busy, or very free, on multiple occasions. Projects would arrive all at the same time that required completion within deadlines set, and then after completion I could find myself idle for 2-3 weeks.
5. How much responsibility were you given during your placement?
I was given sole responsibility of management of the defects tracker, a tracker used to track defects within the Network Rail infrastructure that engineers within the routes used to issue orders to contractors on what should be repaired. I was also given responsibility of reviewing NR assets with Hidden Critical Elements, judging the state of the asset and a suitable re-inspection date.
6. To what extent did/will the skills you developed, and training you received, assist you in your degree studies and beyond?
Skills developed are mostly managerial skills, and related to only one of the subjects I've studied in University; Engineering Management. I have not gained any technical skills within the placement due to Network Rail outsourcing their technical work to Consultants/Contractors. It would assist if I were interested in pursuing an engineering management role/degree, but not if I were interested in consulting/design or contracting.
7. What was the general atmosphere in your office?
General atmosphere within the Stratford office was excellent, I felt a part of the team, almost like family, and found them friendly sociable and easy to get along with, likely due to all the team socials the team participates in (once every 2 months). General atmosphere in The Quadrant was 'good' or 'okay' depending on whom I was with.
8. How well organised was the overall work placement or internship set up?
The placement was very well organised, with set guidelines in place from the start to ensure we work towards chartership objectives. I simply did not like the work given, as I found it rather dull without sufficient variety, nor the Host Manager I worked with in The Quadrant as I found him to not be a good technical teacher. Had I been placed in a different team the placement might have been far better.
9. In terms of personal training and development, to what extent did the company or firm invest in you?
I cannot fault the company on personal training and development, as the Line Manager placed a lot of emphasis on attaining objectives and signing to the ICE Training Scheme, and my host manager within the Anglia Route was a good technical teacher. However my host manager within The Quadrant was not.
10. What were the perks on your work placement?
Working from home
11. How appealing are future employment prospects within the organisation?
I would like to work for Network Rail within a different department to gain experience in other more technical areas of Network Rail, such as Works Delivery or Infrastructure Projects.
12. Was there a good social scene amongst any fellow placement students/colleagues?
I did not socialise much with my fellow placement students in Milton Keynes as I was not too fond of most of them. However I did socialise with the graduates in Anglia Route, and did socialise with the Summer Internship students when they started.
13. What was the cost of living and socialising in the area you worked in?
Milton Keynes is more expensive to socialise in than cities further up north, but cheaper than London.
14. What was the Nightlife like in the area you worked?
I joined a dance club social in Milton Keynes that I enjoyed tremendously and got me into dancing. Otherwise there was not much social life within the city; difficult to get people to go out.
15. Were there many opportunities to get involved in activities outside of work?
There were many opportunities to get involved with other activities in Milton Keynes, dancing, skydiving, climbing, water sports, however it was difficult to get people to go out and participate in such activities. As such I participated in most alone and met people at the activities.