IT Business Analyst/Project Management Placement Student
I really enjoyed my placement year at Cummins. I have developed on a personal and professional level; advancing my skill set, business knowledge and industry experience. I had the opportunity to work with different business units on a regular basis, allowing me to gain further business exposure, and I also worked with remote global teams daily.
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Immediately I felt welcome at Cummins. Everyone treats each other equally, in a diverse and cultured environment. I had a great relationship with my peers, and others in various departments. You are treat like a valued employee like everyone else - not a just a 'placement student'. I received recognition and praise on various projects that I completed - it's great.
Weekly 1:1's are organised with your supervisor, though if you need to meet with them more frequently - they will always make time. Their focus is on your professional development; a work plan will be created for you that you can add to/change, to ensure you get the best out of your placement year. Opportunities will always be provided for training, guidance and support. This can relate to your job role or external opportunities like Six Sigma and Continuous Improvement.
During my time at Cummins, I was always pretty busy/had things to do. This was due to resource pressures within the department, therefore I had increased responsibility. Though this is what I preferred - I like to keep busy, manage my time and projects to deadlines. I feel this is the main reason behind my development.
As mentioned above, the IT team within the business unit was small. Therefore responsibility was heightened. The IT team was not only responsible for the site, but other sites across the world. This was scary at first; dealing with such pressure can be stressful. Though upon reflection, this is when I learnt the most. There is always someone you can ask for help - no question is ever too stupid.
I received Project Management training at Cummins, which linked previous degree modules that I completed at University. Similarly, I completed Six Sigma and Continuous Improvement training - that allowed me to identify useful tools and methodologies that I can use in my future career and project management. I also completed Resilience Management Training. This training focused on how to manage stress and pressure, sleep, situations and communication.
Though as mentioned previously, your development is the focus of Cummins. This was shown as a Student Development Group was set up, giving students the opportunity to run their own projects and advance their skill sets in various ways.
In a business environment, understandably everyone is busy/on calls/in meetings. Though when people do get the chance to interact, everyone is friendly and up for a laugh - when this happens, it does break up your day! Fun things are organised on occasions, for example Christmas Bake Off/Christmas Jumper Days etc.
The handover from the previous placement student, to myself was very brief - just covering the basics. When I handover to the next placement student, after me, I will ensure this is improved and as much as possible is covered. I feel this is a very important period for a new starter, giving them the opportunity to ask questions and gain better understanding is vital. My supervisor and mentor are aware of this, so the start will be improved.
As time went on, the work placement organisation was good with regular 1:1 meetings, updating my work plan and visiting my overall goals/objectives for the year on a regular basis.
The company paid for many training courses to guarantee my development. Not many companies will do this, as you are only there for a year! One example was the Student Development Group training, this was very expensive for the business. The course ran over many weeks, overall delivering 5 sessions that focused on improving your communication, time management, presentation skills and individual learning styles. I also posed the idea of completing induction/awareness days within different departments, this was organised for me immediately - giving me the opportunity to visit other sites and gain further knowledge. This was an opportunity that I saw - and Cummins allowed me to explore it.
Cummins do offer graduate roles to students, though this is based on head count for the annual year. Therefore, it is extremely rare that they can offer you a job on your placement for when you graduate. Future employment depends on your efforts, performance and what you make of opportunities. It is about making the right connections, good impressions and results - so that when you come to apply for graduate positions, they remember you for the right reasons!
The students are a good network to be involved with. Many students during my placement year lived together. They were able to organise this before their placement began, as after initial recruitment a Facebook group/chat was created to give you the opportunity to get to know each other - which was good. During placement, students tend to organise nights out, meals and events outside of work. It depends on your student group for that year, on how active they are.
I only went out with the student group a few times, as I did not live in Darlington (where Cummins was), I lived outside of the area. Therefore travel etc was sometimes difficult. Though when I did go out, it was good - its more about the company you are in, which makes it better.
Cummins is very focused on work with the community. This includes working with charity organisations, food banks, fundraising - this can be done during work hours or outside of work hours. There is also a Sports and Social club, which organises events/occasions outside of work at a discounted price if you sign up to be a member. For example, cheap trips to Alton Towers, Edinburgh Christmas Markets, Curry nights etc.
I also signed up to be a STEM Ambassador, which allows me to volunteer/help in local schools. I did this through a connection I made through Cummins, which also ensured a free DBS check.