My placement at the Met Office was extremely enjoyable. I was offered the perfect amount of support I need to thrive and grow in the workplace. I was working within a friendly but professional team with a real sense of comradery. There were a great many opportunities and resources throughout the Met Office, helping it feel like a community. For example, their “Guilds” and “techconnect meetups” were great ways for developers to collaborate. Their onsite gym with showers and changing room made cycling too and from work far easier. They also have a Karate club which I joined during lunch breaks and before work (amongst other clubs).
I felt entirely valued by my colleagues. From my first day I was treated as part of the team and listened to. My perspective as a new staff member and new user of our software was treated as an asset. Throughout the rest of the year I felt more and more included within the team. I always played an important role within our work and my opinion was treated as just as valid and important as any other member of the team.
I was given an ideal amount of support and guidance from management and supervisors. My team (AVD - Analysis, Visualisation and Data) specialised in providing software to the rest of the Met Office. As such AVD already had an abundance of resources that enabled me to learn how to use our software. While at the Met Office I learnt Python from scratch and became a competent Python user by the end of the year. I was given space to learn by myself but also received more hands on guidance with varied and complex areas in computing.
My workload would vary from day to day. There was always something for me to be doing and I was never left “twiddling my thumbs”. The tasks I was assigned were extensive and it was always possible for me to find more to do. Often, we would be working in teams and coordinating with one another, deciding who would be best suited to what task. As such sometimes I might finish a task but it was all too easy to ask for something else to do. Even in “slow” days there are countless other wider tasks you can work on, which would add to your experience at the Met Office and contribute to the organisations overarching goals.
During my placement I was given an amount of responsibility comparable to staff at a similar level. I worked as a valued member of a team that was making an important contribution to the Met Office. I was given the opportunity to push myself further and make individual contributions to the Met Office. I was given the chance to take the lead in set projects which would play an important part of the team's future.
The skills I developed in my placement far exceeded those I developed at University. I learnt the Python from scratch and it is now my preferred programming language. I gained experience with a wide range of technologies, making me a more rounded developer. The many “soft” skills I developed were also incredibly valuable. For example working within a team using the Scrum / Agile Methodology, acting as technical support to scientists, contributing to meetings regarding the needs of users, and much, much more.
I would describe the Met Office atmosphere as part way between business and academia. As a world leading meteorological organisation, the Met Office places a real emphasis on gaining knowledge and sharing it. They have regular conferences and expos, along with guilds and meetups for staff to share their experience with one-another. The building even looks like a university campus. The numerous groups, societies and staff events provide a real sense of community. At the same time, the Met Office still operates like a business and all the staff are professionals working hard to produce a reliable service.
The industrial placement was reasonably well organised. Due to the various checks involved and the challenges of the public sector, it takes a long time from the initial application to actually being accepted and starting work at the Met Office. The essential training is carried out in a relatively streamlined manner at the beginning of the placement. While on the placement we had regular communication with senior members of staff and our progress was being tracked and we had people looking out for us. However, there were some miscommunications or misunderstandings about management. For example, how staff aims were supposed to be used and managed was confusing. Some changes happening within the Met Office resulted in slightly confusing work environments for some people. I found the way the pensions were managed for placement students frustrating, students really need more help and guidance.
The Met Office invests a lot in the training of all its staff. There are countless opportunities for staff to expand their knowledge. For example the “basic training” covers a lot of detail on the organisation’s operations and the chance to learn some meteorology from some excellent educators. Other means of education include, developer meetups, conferences on a variety of topics in science and technology at different levels presented by experts and expositions with many interesting and useful talks. All of this training is coordinated or supplemented by the Met Office’s own internal college. As a placement student I was given plenty of time within my team to learn all the important technologies for my job and had lots of opportunities to develop further throughout the year. My education was seen as a benefit to the organisation, rather than an inconvenience to be “gotten out of the way as soon as possible”.
Sports and Social Club
Above 25 days holiday
I would love to work at the Met Office again in the future. The Met Office run a Graduate Scheme exclusively for their former placement students. The graduates rotate around the Met Office getting to see even more of it than they had previously before settling down in an area to work as a full time member of staff. The culture, resources and work are all exceptionally appealing to me and I hope to work at the Met Office in the future.
Yes, there was quite a good social scene amongst placement students and other staff. We placement students spent a lot of time together throughout the year and got to know each other very well. We also spent time with students from other parts of the Met Office “Talent Pipeline”, such as their apprentices. We socialised whenever we could, though sometimes this was difficult because some of the students did not live in Exeter. Socialising with the rest of the staff was also encourages. Individual teams and groups would have their own social events engaging in many different and interesting activities. There were also events for more of the staff at large, encouraging people from different areas to spend time with one another.
The cost in Exeter is reasonable. It is possible to rent a reasonable room in Exeter and live only off of the wage the Met Office provides. However, you must have a plan for your money and establish as budget. The cost of the social life was also quite reasonable, it doesn’t seem to be the cheapest part of the UK, but it’s certainly easier to afford than somewhere like London.
The Nightlife in Exeter has some great potential. There is a major university nearby so there are plenty of bars and clubs that cater to the tastes of students. The Exeter University campus may also have events that are worth looking into. The Exeter University website is definitely a good source for information on potential social attractions. The variety in pubs and bars means there’s likely something for everyone. However, I do not go on nights out all that often and only went to one club while in Exeter. I did enjoy myself and got to know a few good pubs, but I cannot comment too strongly on the club scene.
Yes, there were many opportunities to get involved in activities outside of work. There were so many different activities that my experience only covers a small percentage. There were opportunities to get to know people from many different areas and do things supporting many different groups. For example, the Met Office helps run a sort of science club here school children come to the Met Office to learn about science, any staff from any part of the Met Office can volunteer. There’s the chance to go to conferences all across the world, to better understand your field. There were many social and activity groups within the Met Office you can join e.g. Karate, board games, archery, basketball, cycling, knitting, chess, choir and much more. They have a yearly sports day, which I took part in alongside other placement students. There are also activities with groups from outside the Met Office that I never really explored.
Placement Year (10 Months+)