1. To what extent did you enjoy your work placement or internship?
I thoroughly enjoyed my Internship with Discover and was able to work with many technologies. Being able to experience both work life in the UK and USA was valuable and has allowed me to develop my professional skills. I was constantly given the chance to learn and engage in a range of projects.
2. To what extent did you feel valued by your colleagues?
From the work I did for the company to the many Intern development activities, not once did I feel ignored. I was given work on actual projects and was an active member of many meetings. My opinions were always considered and enjoyed every day working with my team. I became a valued member of Discover.
3. To what extent were you given support and guidance by management/your supervisor(s)?
Upon joining Discover I was assigned a to a team and given a mentor. Both were extremely helpful in my initial weeks where I learnt Discover’s business model and the systems I was working on. I had weekly 1-on-1 meetings with my manager either in person or via a video call where we discussed any issues I had. My mentor was sat at the desk next to mine making it very easy for me to get help when stuck or confused.
4. How busy were you on a daily basis?
I always had work to do but the tasks were interesting and I learnt a large amount, faster than I would have at University. There were three main tasks I would do:
- Work for the team I was assigned to, this was work that we had divided up among the team and would work on collaboratively
- Personal Project, during my time I had a project to work on that was to be implemented onto the system my team was working on. However I had full control over how and when I could work on it. Allowing me to do work during quieter periods.
- Intern Projects, as part of the intern scheme various events and tasks were organised. Such as Q&As, industry talks, group projects and trips.
5. How much responsibility were you given during your placement?
I was able to work on actual projects in a team, contributing code to the codebase and helping make decisions. Not once did I feel like I could not do something because I had not been given the responsibility.
6. To what extent did/will the skills you developed, and training you received, assist you in your degree studies and beyond?
All the skills I developed were essential to the industry I plan to work in and I was also able to develop skills that I had not been able to learn at University. An example of one of the skills that I developed was my networking skills. Socialising with employees in both the UK and USA offices gave me experience that I was unable to regularly gain at University.
Also my programming skills also improved a large amount, writing peer-reviewed industry code regularly made me a better programmer. As a result I have seen a large increase in the quality of software I write at university.
7. What was the general atmosphere in your office?
The office was very open, it was easy to pop over to another employee and talk to them at their desk. The culture is pro-collaboration so many of the offices are open planned and built into team pods. This is especially prevalent in the USA offices. Some days I would work at a cubicle but much preferred the open desks as it allowed for easier team discussions.
8. How well organised was the overall work placement or internship set up?
Initially in the UK the first week was a little confusing but this was expected as we were their first ever Interns. However the process of arranging us to work in the USA was very smooth. Once their we joined the USA Intern Program, which has been running for many years. The US side was very well organised with events especially with the large number of interns that they had.
The work that I was given and teaching I got was very well organised and I quickly got a grasp of the technologies and the company as a result of this.
9. In terms of personal training and development, to what extent did the company or firm invest in you?
The company made a lot of effort to ensure that I had all the material I needed to learn. A number of architects and managers took the time to schedule 1-on-1s with me to explain anything I wanted to know. Along with the work I did I feel that the company and its employees were very keen to invest in me.
10. What were the perks on your work placement?
11. How appealing are future employment prospects within the organisation?
The prospects with Discover are great, they are growing and really value their employees. In the time I was working with Discover a number of employees which I were friends with gained promotions. Indicating to me that there is good career progression within Discover. At the end of my Internship I was given an offer which I accepted.
12. Was there a good social scene amongst any fellow placement students/colleagues?
There were only four interns in the UK and we only spent 2 weeks at the UK office, however we quickly became good friends. Once we were at the USA Office there were around 100 Interns total. I quickly made friends and would often spend the weekends exploring Chicago with other Interns.
13. What was the cost of living and socialising in the area you worked in?
The company paid for my accommodation in both the UK and USA as well as flights. The area that we lived was slightly more expensive than average in America but as I did not have to pay rent I did not mind the more expensive groceries. The hotel we stayed at had a shuttle that would give lifts to any location less than 5 miles making shopping easy.
14. What was the Nightlife like in the area you worked?
The area I lived in had lots of good restaurants with a wide range of food available. Getting to the centre of Chicago was easy due to the local metro. In Chicago there are lots of places to go! In addition Discover employees are allowed free access to many of Chicago’s museums and the Shedd Aquarium due to Discover being a corporate sponsor. Allow many trips to be quire cheap. Note to go to the bars and drink you must 21.
15. Were there many opportunities to get involved in activities outside of work?
One of Discovers drives is Volunteerism, there were plenty of opportunities to get involved in this culture. I was able to spend the day as a volunteer gardener at Chicago’s botanical garden. There were also many opportunities to get involved with intern activities such as the Ideathon, where you can work in teams to come up with a new product for discover and pitch it to management.