In terms of a placement year, you can't get much better than a company as large as GE. There was a lot of support that was provided whilst I adapted to working full time, and I got an overview of the company rather than being limited to my specific role.
As an engineering intern, I was treated more like an engineer than an intern. After the first couple of weeks adjusting, I was made a part of the work rotation, and was even given my own focus area to be in charge of. I was given the choice of trying each task in turn so that I could have at least a basic understanding of everything that went on within our team.
At GE they are used to taking on inexperienced employees, and are therefore more aware of how best to incorporate them into the company. My manager would ask me all the right questions in our monthly meetings, trying to find out any problems I was having, even if I didn't know I was having them. Having said that, there are some issues you would be expected to reach out to your manager for yourself, but once you do they will help you resolve them quickly.
In my case, I always had something to do. In my 12 month placement, I probably had 2 hours where I was at a loss for what to do, and that was within the first few days. The main thing I took from that is to ask for work. If you don't have work, there is always someone who will have too much work and could use some extra help, and doing so helped me to introduce myself to the rest of the team.
I was 100% accountable for every piece of work I did. If a document I had written was released, my name would be on it. If I commissioned a piece of equipment, my evidence would be attached to the calibration process. There were of course review procedures, and approval processes, but at the end of the day there was a certain level of trust that was given to all of us.
There isn't a single task that I regret doing, or that I don't think I can take something from. Even something menial like storage cupboard organisation helped me with my time management skills, and got me asking the right questions about what we kept and what it was used for. I have no doubt that my placement has improved my competency, and that I can apply it to my studies and final year dissertation.
Being in a company so large meant that there were always people you would get along with. Obviously everyone had respect for each other, and it was a professional environment, but you could have a laugh with people at the same time. Considering people spend the majority of their life working, they don't want to uphold pretenses about their personality, and that definitely showed when I started to get to know people. Because of the professional environment, anyone you would get on with you do get on with, and anyone you wouldn't get on with you have that measure of respect for what they can do anyway. It was a great place to work.
The managers were used to having interns work for them. Being much cheaper to employ than an experienced engineer also means that you have less pressure put on you, allowing for a lot of leniency when trying to learn new tasks. At the site I worked on, there were 50 interns whilst I was there, and some of us got given a real world project to work on separately, which is being continued after we leave.
Sports and Social Club
Staff Sales/Staff Shop
Above 25 days holiday
Working from home
Personally I have been given a lot of advice and guidance about what would be best for me in terms of staying at GE after my studies. There are graduate schemes across the country, as well as the option of direct entry into the role I interned as. All the leaders of the schemes and my managers were willing to set time aside and discuss my options with me.
I lived in Cheltenham, and as with any area, there were cheap and expensive places to live. Cheltenham town was easily accessible, and the cost of a night out was fairly reasonable. There were also a lot of events, the main of which being the horse racing. In summary i'd say the cost depends on what you want to do, and how you want to live.
Placement Year (10 Months+)
10th May 2019