A very mixed bag across the year, both good and bad, I enjoyed learning about the practicality of engineering within industry and seeing how it can be applied to a large-scale business, however, severe miscommunication, lack of steering and direction by support lines and management made the year unpleasant at times and caused a very uncomfortable atmosphere.
I felt well recognized by colleagues within my section, however, outside of the department felt rather unsettling and not comfortable at times. Many friendly people were within the department who were always cheerful and ready to greet you, but there seems to be a massive stigmatism about being a student in this department which can make times awkward while working here.
Support when it was received was found useful, however, I found that a lot of my time during placement, my supervisor/management were missing from their offices, which made it extremely difficult to find them. Because of this, most of my time was spent just looking for them rather than actually discussing something. Feedback and support is good, a stable and consistent source is it is lacking heavily at the moment and needs reconsideration.
The amount of work I received over time fluctuated, but leaned towards the end of not enough to do most of the time. Spikes in work would be quickly solved and I would often find myself dragging out work just to kill time to ensure I had something to occupy myself. A more steady and open flow of work is recommended to keep future students curious and excited.
On most pieces of work, I did have quite an important role in terms of project management and leadership. Many projects made me feel like a responsible engineer, and completing them lead to a strong sense of accomplishment. A big big negative that lets this placement down though is the lack of responsibility in the workshop environment. This role is largely design and manufacture, and across the year I repeatedly asked to be trained on manufacturing equipment to make my own parts. In the end, I only learned how to use the CNC, and so much of my time was spent having to negotiate with technicians and waste time, sometimes several days or weeks, planted at my desk waiting for them to do the task when I could be doing on the workshop floor myself and learning as I was doing so. This is another pointer that should be considered for future students, to learn the design and manufacturing processes and see them in action as an engineers role should entail, instead of being glued to a screen.
The skills I learnt were incredibly practical, I received a lot of experience on CNC manufacturing and by doing so, sparked my interest into how manufacturing processes vary from industry to industry. Being able to present and write comprehensive reports was also very valuable, a skill I can carry forward and develop much further into both my university and professional career.
The office was a very nice place to be, a mix of people all of which were very friendly and chatty, I greatly enjoyed being in this office as there was always someone around having a laugh with others and keeping the overall environment a better place to work, overall a small, bright office to be in.
Very disorganized and a huge lack of communication between student/management on work setups made situations much worse, very little catch up with management was a big problem and sometimes it seemed as if the management network almost didn't care, this caused a tense relationship between myself and them as it was sometimes a struggle to get the support I needed, better planning is needed to accommodate the student's needs and not just the business desires of Lubrizol.
Development in soft skills was a trait which seemed to have minimal encouragement from staff, little mention of presentations or report writing etc. meant it was largely done off my own back, feedback from these things however was very useful and helped me learn how to improve, but the irregularity of these things was also a pointer as to making it seem like management didn't really care. In terms of physical training, there was next to none, only CNC training, everything else was learnt myself and therefore I still feel very empty and a bit upset having not been trained on the expansive amount of equipment that I could have used here.
Sports and Social Club
The organization has no graduate positions, meaning it would be fairly difficult to return without a full-time vacancy which could be very competitive. Several people here are students who have returned after their degree, meaning there is potential to return after seeing these former students' success. These vacancies are very low in numbers unfortunately, meaning future employment here would be very unlikely at most given times.
The students were a big highlight of the year, being amongst a cohort of 25+ other students in the same situation as me was fantastic as it allowed me to make friends quickly and easily as everybody is in the same boat. Seeing as all students came from different backgrounds too was great as it allowed us to share our stories of degrees, university, personal life etc.
The living costs were fairly affordable. At the Lubrizol Hazelwood site where I was employed, I lived in West Derby in a house of 4 including myself. The cost of living here was much more affordable as I lived with 3 others, and I was paying around £80 a week all bills included. For a student in my situation, this was more than ideal to save money for other purposes.
The nightlife in Derby was nothing too exciting, being with the students on nights out was great as we all had a good time together and there was always somebody to suggest doing something in the evenings. However, in terms of places to go to, this was very limited (only about 3-5 good places to go), and we would always only visit a regular selection of places each time which became well known and almost trusted by the students.
The Sports & Social Club was a great incentive to get out there during free time and weekends, and going to do things with both students and full timers at the company. The activities were always exciting and something I looked forward to taking part in, e.g. go-karting, trips (my favourite being the one to Alton Towers), and a massive range of others, too many to mention!
Placement Year (10 Months+)
2nd July 2019