1. To what extent did you enjoy your work placement or internship?
Overall, I have enjoyed my placement year at BMW Group Plant Oxford. This year I have picked up many new skills and been given varying tasks throughout my placement. I enjoyed the amount of responsibility I was given on occasions, however I feel that I could have been given more work during some months.
2. To what extent did you feel valued by your colleagues?
In general, colleagues and associates have been welcoming and helpful during my time at the company, with few exceptions. Most of the time, I feel like a valued member of my team and I am treated fairly. I have also been given positive feedback on many occasions. Overall, it was a good environment to work in.
3. To what extent were you given support and guidance by management/your supervisor(s)?
My supervisor has been very helpful throughout the duration of my placement and I have been given clear advice as to who I am reporting to and who to contact for a variety of different issues. I have not had much contact with management but have been given good exposure after presenting to some higher managers during one of my projects.
4. How busy were you on a daily basis?
I have had a decent level of work throughout the duration of my placement, however on some days I feel that I could have been given more tasks, whereas on others I had too many. I feel that there needs to be more of an understanding of how busy interns are day-to-day within the company, and perhaps sometimes it would be better to be 'loaned' between departments if more help is needed.
5. How much responsibility were you given during your placement?
I have been involved in a couple of large projects during my time at the company where I have worked with many teams and been given exposure within the company as a key member of each project. In these cases, I feel like I have been given a lot of responsibility as an intern. However, I have still been given minor tasks occasionally, which could be described as 'intern jobs'.
6. To what extent did/will the skills you developed, and training you received, assist you in your degree studies and beyond?
I have definitely developed many skills at BMW which I believe will assist me in the future, and I have gained confidence that I could fit in within the automotive industry. My professional development has also improved. However, I do not feel that I have gained many skills that are relevant to the rest of my degree studies.
7. What was the general atmosphere in your office?
The atmosphere was generally very good, a relaxed environment to work in with not much stress day-to-day, but I also felt like I could ask for help where I needed it.
8. How well organised was the overall work placement or internship set up?
Unfortunately, between accepting the job offer in January 2018 and starting in July 2018, the HR side of the company was incredibly evasive and difficult to deal with. In short, be prepared to keep contacting them to keep you up to date with your contract and to give you information about starting your placement. Once started, it is generally not as bad, however before starting contacting them is almost impossible. Upon talking to other interns it seems everyone had different issues, but nobody had a good experience with HR, and some had a poor induction. I am not sure how BMW compares to other companies in this case. Fortunately, steps are now being taken to improve the overall process, so hopefully in future years it will become more fluid.
9. In terms of personal training and development, to what extent did the company or firm invest in you?
BMW Group seems reluctant to put funding behind interns, with not many benefits from the company, at least from what I have heard compared to some other placement opportunities. Some interns rarely get the opportunity to go on business trips, for example. Unfortunately, for such a big company, I feel that this is quite poor. It is worth mentioning that this is not a problem with the people I work with day-to-day but with the overall structure of the company, and full-time employees seem to be invested in quite well.
10. What were the perks on your work placement?
Staff Sales/Staff Shop
Above 25 days holiday
11. How appealing are future employment prospects within the organisation?
The company seems to focus on hiring apprentices for future roles, and this shows with the small number of graduate opportunities compared to the number of interns. This is sad to see as I would not mind coming back to the company in future to work in quality, as despite a few flaws with the internship, I feel the experience as a permanent employee would be better based on what I have seen within the company.
12. Was there a good social scene amongst any fellow placement students/colleagues?
There was a good social scene within the interns in the quality department, and events are generally organised every week. However, it is worth saying that these events are organised by the interns themselves. There were a couple of opportunities to socialise with permanent colleagues however not as many as I would like.
13. What was the cost of living and socialising in the area you worked in?
Oxford is a very expensive area to live in compared to much of the rest of the UK. Expect prices similar to London in all but accommodation costs (which are still way above average). I would say the intern salary is slightly above average, which does help a small amount.
14. What was the Nightlife like in the area you worked?
There are many places to socialise in Oxford city centre provided you are prepared to pay for it. Cowley itself (the location of the plant) is not the greatest area, but can easily be avoided.
15. Were there many opportunities to get involved in activities outside of work?
In terms of activities with colleagues, not many, but with other interns, yes.