1. To what extent did you enjoy your work placement or internship?
For the most part, my time at Mentor was enjoyable and has added to my overall degree experience. I settled in to the company quite quickly and towards the end of placement I feel as though I have become a key part of the team.
2. To what extent did you feel valued by your colleagues?
Being a part of the QA team, I was an important part of the software development process and this responsibility meant I was always valued by colleagues. Being asked to get involved in product demonstrations and producing technical content to showcase new software features gave me a sense that what I was contributing to the team was important and valuable.
3. To what extent were you given support and guidance by management/your supervisor(s)?
I had monthly meetings with my manager to discuss any issues or concerns I had. The first month of placement was a steep learning curve in terms of getting to grips with the company process and the project management software that is used by Mentor, however there were always colleagues on hand to answer questions on this.
4. How busy were you on a daily basis?
Due to the nature of the software development process, the work I was doing fluctuated continuously throughout the year. This meant that some weeks were quite dull and slow. However, there is always some work that can be picked up and I was encouraged to explore the software whenever I could. I never felt pressured to get loads of work finished as I was trusted to manage my own time which I believe worked well.
5. How much responsibility were you given during your placement?
Testing the CFD software produced by Mentor is a reasonably big responsibility, however you are part of a team that is all doing the same thing and anyone could be trained to do the QA work so this responsibility doesn't add much value to the placement. On the other hand, giving presentations/demonstrations to internal and external employees gives interns a greater sense of responsibility, along with producing technical content that utilised my engineering knowledge. I enjoyed this work a lot more than the day-to-day QA tasks. Overall, I feel as though the placement does plateau after 8 months. Being an intern, there is not much more progression beyond this point.
6. To what extent did/will the skills you developed, and training you received, assist you in your degree studies and beyond?
Throughout my placement, I learnt the basics of creating and solving a CFD model. By the end of placement, I had created a model from start to finish. This involved producing a detailed CAD model, setting up the CFD project and analysing the results by utilising post-processing tools that I had learnt to use effectively throughout testing. Part of the QA role was to produce CFD models to test software functionality and this was how I learnt most of what I know about creating models. This knowledge will complement my degree studies as I am taking a CFD module next year. Although this will be heavily theoretical, it will still be good to have a basic understanding of CFD from a user point of view.
7. What was the general atmosphere in your office?
The Hampton Court office is small and I got to know everyone on our floor to some extent. The office atmosphere is very relaxed and open. There are few office divides and so it is easy to go over to a colleague and ask a question. Everyone is open to a discussion about the work you are doing.
8. How well organised was the overall work placement or internship set up?
The placement is well organised as it has been running for a good few years now. I think the training phase could be re-organised however. The training presentations at the start of the year could be reduced as a lot of the information will either be forgotten or picked up as you progress on the job anyway.
9. In terms of personal training and development, to what extent did the company or firm invest in you?
Mentor will train all their interns on how to use the software they produce, most interns will specialise in one or two programs. I was lucky enough to also be taught how to use optimisation software in addition to this.
10. What were the perks on your work placement?
11. How appealing are future employment prospects within the organisation?
As an employer, I believe Mentor look after graduate hires and give them the opportunity to progress and develop in their careers. Personally, I am not interested in returning to Mentor as I would prefer to work for an engineering company that actually does some engineering, not a company that simply provides the tools for engineers. The exposure to engineering analysis tools has been useful, however I don't feel the work has been particularly hands-on in terms of building/analysing something.
12. Was there a good social scene amongst any fellow placement students/colleagues?
Having a few younger colleagues that I could relate to meant that the social side of placement wasn't too bad. There are only two interns in the Hampton Court office so there isn't much of a team feel to it.
13. What was the cost of living and socialising in the area you worked in?
If you're in the Hampton Court office, a lot. If you can find a reasonably priced flat share or commute in from nearby it might not be too bad. In reality, unless you're sponging off your parents then it'll cost you.
14. What was the Nightlife like in the area you worked?
Kingston is okay for going out, there are cinemas and loads of restaurants. Being not too far from London is good if you have friends/family that you can meet up with. Everything is expensive down South though!
15. Were there many opportunities to get involved in activities outside of work?