1. To what extent did you enjoy your work placement or internship?
I really enjoyed the first two weeks of C++ and software development training, which was run by one of the company's chief software architects.
There were many interns and graduates and they were all placed into different teams; I was unlucky to be placed into a team which wasn't a good fit for me in terms of enjoying my work. The tasks given to me were mostly bug fixes within a codebase too large to get to grips with within only 10 weeks, and with many legacy aspects which made working with it harder than usual.
However, my only complaint is with the tasks I was assigned; otherwise the training, the work socials and my colleagues were very nice.
2. To what extent did you feel valued by your colleagues?
As is the nature of the profession, a true graduate with no experience in software development can't provide much value to the company even after two weeks of tailored training. It usually takes a lot longer than that for them to build up all the pre-requisites with all the technologies in software development, and enough familiarity with existing codebases to make a meaningful impact.
Saying that though, my colleagues did their best not to let this show. I was given the faith to just get to work straightaway and do tackle tasks just the same as any other team member; of course, I could ask for help from anyone whenever I needed.
3. To what extent were you given support and guidance by management/your supervisor(s)?
I can't fault the support and guidance given. The two weeks of initial C++ training with the company's chief software architect taught me more about software engineering than what I had gained from an entire university degree.
The remaining eight weeks, during my placement, on any given day I was always assigned a supervisor, usually the one who knew about the task I had been assigned the best; on some days. in fact most days, they would patiently sit with me all day and explain the best way to approach a problem, or sorting out any technical issues as they arose.
4. How busy were you on a daily basis?
I was given the perfect balance, and always had a task to keep me busy and feeling productive. However, at any time I felt like it was too much I felt comfortable to say to my colleagues that I would like some time to catch up and self study some skill which I felt I was lacking, and that I felt would help me with my work.
5. How much responsibility were you given during your placement?
I was given the faith to get stuck in and tackle tasks the same as the other team members.
6. To what extent did/will the skills you developed, and training you received, assist you in your degree studies and beyond?
As mentioned, the initial 2 weeks of C++ training taught me more than my whole degree. And then on top of that I got experience in an actual software engineering job for the remaining 8 weeks!
7. What was the general atmosphere in your office?
The working atmosphere in a room of software engineers is, just as the stereotype goes, pretty focused and quiet. Jokes and small talk was quite rare.
This is just how the job goes, but at least there wasn't the stress and horrific working culture that one sometimes gets in, for example, a finance job.
8. How well organised was the overall work placement or internship set up?
The internship scheme at the Birmingham branch in Autodesk has a reputation for being one of the best, and for good reason - it's well established and has been around for years and is superbly organised. Interns receive 2 weeks of initial training and then spend the remaining 8 weeks among one of the development scrums.
9. In terms of personal training and development, to what extent did the company or firm invest in you?
The company invested time and money and resources into our development with nothing held back. I rate only nine out of ten because many of the interns were given old company laptops which couldn't keep up with the demands of their work but in fairness, if they had raised this issue with their supervisors sooner they would have been given new ones (and those who stayed on to work full time did).
10. What were the perks on your work placement?
Working from home
11. How appealing are future employment prospects within the organisation?
Interns are only hired if they are deemed to be a good fit for the company. Near the end of the placement interns are offered the chance to apply for a full time role and if they do, their application is almost always successful. Autodesk appears to be a growing company that actively looks to hire young talent.
12. Was there a good social scene amongst any fellow placement students/colleagues?
There were 2 socials with fellow interns and graduates in the first week, and another in the penultimate week. These were really nice as we got free meals and entertainment paid for by the company and had a chance to get to know each other a lot better, so that we felt like we had friends during our time here! There weren't any socials with the employees during our internship though.
13. What was the cost of living and socialising in the area you worked in?
Birmingham is a fairly unique place in that the variety of accommodation ranges from high end, professional and very expensive (nearly always £650 a month or more), to very cheap (less than £425 a month) but absolute trash - and very little in between. The company don't provide accommodation so keep this in mind if you will need to find your own.
14. What was the Nightlife like in the area you worked?
I don't go out or drink much so I can't comment, but Birmingham is known for having a good choice of clubs and bars.
15. Were there many opportunities to get involved in activities outside of work?
The three work socials as mentioned, and every Wednesday if enough people are interested people in the Birmingham office book a football pitch and have a game.