Process engineer in the global engineering team, working on the design of new plants around the world.
I really enjoyed my placement at Air Products. The people at the company are what make it the most enjoyable. I got involved in sports clubs and socialised with colleagues from different departments.
I felt like a member of the team and was given the same responsibilities as other employees. My work was valued and my input was appreciated in all the work that I did.
My manager was there for me whenever I needed guidance. My senior colleagues were also happy to help with any problems. I had regular meetings with my manager to discuss progress and tasks.
Being in the engineering department, the workload came in ebbs and flows. There was a period of a month or so where there was less work around; however I always had something to do. At some times I had multiple projects at the same time, but I never felt overwhelmed and I personally enjoy the challenge of working to deadlines.
I had a great deal of responsibility for my projects. I was given ownership of the work that I carried out. I completed one project of great importance, which was assigned by my manager's manager and I reported directly to him; I also gave support on this topic in a meeting with the clients.
The experiences, skills and network that I have built whilst on placement will be invaluable for my future career. At university, I will have a great advantage on my final year design project having carried out real design work whilst on placement, and being very familiar with engineering drawings. The experience of working as a process engineer will give me an edge when applying for graduate roles, and will contribute towards achieving chartership.
The atmosphere varied over the year. Everyone was friendly and willing to help, but at times it could be quite quiet in the office without a great deal of interaction between colleagues. The company could do more to keep its employees engaged and happy in their roles - in the engineering department there was never a budget for 'fun'.
The placement was well organised. There were specific objectives for development set up at the start of the year and frequent progress meetings during the year. The placement managers frequently checked up on the placement students to see how we were getting on. The managers gave meaningful work to placement students.
Most of the training and development was done 'on-the-job', with support from colleagues for new tasks. At the beginning of the year I had meetings to introduce the key concepts of air separation plants, but there was no formal training paid for by the company during the placement. I did opt to attend a meeting on process safety given by one of the managers. This area is one the company could improve upon.
I would be willing to work for the organisation again in the future, as I enjoyed my time there. The working environment is productive and there are great people at the company. The salary is competitive and the opportunities for progression appear to be good. The industrial gases sector is also interesting and currently the company is performing well and making investments.
The social scene is excellent at Air Products. There are sports and social clubs that you can get involved with. I did football, running, badminton and sometimes touch rugby as well! It's a great opportunity to meet people from different departments and levels of seniority. There is a graduate council which includes placement students and organises events on a regular basis.
I was living and working in Surrey at the head office. The cost of living is extremely expensive in the area, with the company not providing any assistance with this. I believe the company should assist students with accommodation during placement. I was spending more than half my monthly salary on the cost of living including rent and food - without having to pay for commuting since I was living close enough to walk.
I cannot really comment on the nightlife, since I am not one to go out partying. However, London is not far by train and the graduates often went there to socialise.
There were some opportunities to do extracurricular activities. I volunteered to do an outreach activity which involved going to a school and judging a contest. As mentioned previously, there are company sports clubs which meet outside of work, for example I played football on Monday evenings. Apart from that there weren't many opportunities.