Supporting and steering key functions to ensure parts quality management throughout production from supplier liability.
Although I'd never had any previous experience in a professional work environment, I went into the placement year with very high expectations which meant that the reality was far different than what i'd imagined.
Once I had realised this and changed my mindset and approach towards working life in general I found it a lot easier to enjoy the work I was doing.
If I had to make the choice again whether to do a placement year or not I would do it all the same. The skills I've learnt over the course over the placement year, although maybe not specifically techincal, are invaluable and I've gained huge amounts of knowledge about a multi-national business as well as professional etiquette.
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Obviously, being a student intern, you're at the bottom of the food chain. When first starting out, colleagues and the people around you treat you differently and often ask you to carry out dull tasks but this can be changed very quickly by earning peoples respect and showing your capabilities as well as trying to connect with people in the office on a personal level, not only a professional one.
It's important to try and be proactive and go out of your way to ask for new projects. At the end of the day, the level of responsibility you'll be given will be vastly determined by the outcome of your previous projects. If you're successful, and prove to people that you can be trusted from the start, the work will come on it's own.
Therefore, the extent to which i've felt valued by my colleagues has improved significantly over the course of the year and that's naturally the way it works.
I feel fully integrated into the department and my team now and i'm treated like any other employee.
For the first 3 months of the placement I was given a good framework to stay within and a lot of guidance which was nice. I never felt that I was getting in the way by asking questions which made me feel comfortable in the office and enabled me to gain a rapid understanding of the department dynamics.
Over the course of the year I was given more freedom to steer my year in the direction I wanted. Having come straight out of university, although you feel that you can manage your own time, it took me a while to realise that we are still being 'spoon fed' to an extent.
Ultimately, my goal for the year was to learn to work independantly and ask my own questions, but aslo to be able to resolve problems on my own. I feel like i've made good progress towards this goal.
Over the course of the year, this varied quite a lot. I had a good mixture of daily, weekly and monthly tasks, as well as ongoing long-term projects. The start of the year was less busy as could be expected, during which time i was learning how run certain reports and meetings.
Once I really got to grips with the basics I was given some more projects, smaller ones at first but slowly gaining more responsibility.
Although I feel that I have been handed a good portion of work throughout the year, I don't feel that my time has been fully utilised. I often could have made the time for other projects.
I was never asked to stay over-time, only out of choice in order to meet deadlines for certain projects.
Over the course of the year, the level of responsibility I was given increased a lot. I am now at the stage where I feel that I have an appropriate level of the responsibility, or more even, for my grade.
Having people put their trust in me, has given me a lot of confidence in myself and the level of work that I am producing. Of course, this is always an ongoing progression but I feel like it's going in the right direction.
The skills that I have been able to focus on and develop during my placement year are often the ones that are overlooked when you are at university. Although, on the technical side I haven't learnt a huge amount (maybe because my discipline is Aerospace Engineering and my placement isn't directly related to this industry) but in terms of soft skills and other invaluable workplace skills such as Excel and PowerPoint I feel like I have progressed a lot.
I often undermined the importance of communication, and particularly being able to present in front of large audiences. I've had the opportunity to meet and present some of my work to some the hierarchy within BMW and these were invaluable experiences to me.
I was lacking quite a lot of confidence at the start of the year, particularly presenting to large audiences but I feel much more confident thanks to all the opportunities I have had throughout the year, almost to the point where I am now looking forward to presenting my work to my managers and colleagues.
Overall, the general atmosphere in the office is very positive. My colleagues are always friendly and available to chat if I need anything.
The only difficulty was sometimes the age gap between myself and my colleagues. It was difficult to connect with them at first and make small talk, but after a while this becomes easier.
The motivation in the office is average, many people here have been around a long time and already accomplished many of their goals. As a young person coming into the department, I was rearing to go full of energy as I wanted to achieve as much as possible throughout the year. This was sometimes difficult with the surroundings and I found myself getting distracted.
The internship organisation process can vary from department to department. At the end of the day, it will depend on your manager or person in charge.
Overall, I would say that my programme was set up quite well. There are obviously points that can be improved on but we have had multiple meetings with the HR department to review the internship program and there is an active team in place to improve the structure of the placements in general.
Some of the outcomes of this include an induction day for new interns on your first day arriving at work. This will give you the opportunity to meet past and present interns and create a social network from the start, rather than feeling segregated in your department.
I was rather disappointed with the level of financial investment made by the company in myself but in particular interns in general.
Working for BMW I would have liked to have taken German lessons throughout the year. Unfortunately this is not offered to interns so I took it upon myself to learn the basics.
I didn't receive any other formal training that has financial implications either.
I feel that if the company had invested in the German lessons I would be far more inclined at this stage to consider returning to the company after I finish my degree.
As mentioned in the previous question, the likelihood that I would return the company, in particular, to Plant Oxford is rather slim.
The graduate programmes are not particularly appealing to me.
At the end of the day, the BMW Group as a whole is a German organisation and given that I only have basic knowledge in this area this would limit my progression within the company which is far from ideal.
The social scene felt as if I was still at university to be honest. I've been living in shared accomodation with 5 other interns also working at BMW and it's been great.
There's a network of around 90 interns scattered around the plant and we have weekly socials on Thursdays which usually involves going to a pub for a few drinks.
On weekends we usually go out into town atleast once.
Unfortunately, living in Oxford is quite expensive. Accomodation isn't cheap and neither is the city in terms of food and drink.
There are lots of opportunities to get out and socialise in Oxford which as a positive, even during the day.
The city centre is really nice and there are lots of parks around.
The nightlife in Oxford is typically good, particularly around the Cowley area which is a little bit cheaper than the town centre. There are lots of bars and pubs around here which are often busy with University students as well so there are always a lot of young people around.
Yes there are always opportunities in Oxford and nearby. Activities such as go-karting, paintballing, bowling and cinema excursions were often organised among the interns. We also play football on a Wednesday once a week between interns but there are also possibilities to join other teams in the area to play at a more competitive level.