The placement experience was overall very positive. From a biochemistry point of view, the pay is generous, with an extra bonus in april and free shares, there is potential to adjust your year to personal objectives, the facilities are comfortable (with subsidised gym access), the placement team is very supportive and there is access to various training courses throughout the year.
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As a placement student you are given the opportunity to meet the head of BAT Southampton twice. There is also a student speed networking event where the placement students can meet the senior management team of BAT Southampton. The company treats the placement students as full time employees with the responsibilities and benefits that entail.
Upon arrival, the student is assigned a junior and a senior mentor. This provides support on a career level but also on a day to day level. These mentors are not part of your team making it a safe environment for asking support / advice. I was also given quarterly reviews with ample and constructive feedback on my performance in the project.
The first month was overall slow with little work to complete. Soon after this, the amount of work picked up and was constant throughout the year. The amount of work given filled 9am to 5pm days with often some overlap into the evening. This is however not mandatory and it is very easy to diminish the amount of work by realigning expectations with your line manager.
I was made responsible for producing technical work which was at the bottleneck for the project continuation. I was also tasked to deliver project updates and technical reviews to various people from the business. Responsibilities also included training BAT employees and staff from an external laboratory. However all these responsibilities were only given after full training.
The work conducted at BAT is not relevant at all to my degree in Biochemistry. However this was a personal choice to branch out of my domain of studies and to acquire new skills. This was very successful as the placement offered exposure to a variety of professional challenges enabling the development of leadership of self, leadership of others, presentation, time management and prioritisation skills (amongst others).
The general atmosphere of my office was very positive with the team meeting occasionally outside of work. There was also a very good rapport between the people of different levels of hierarchy making the senior management team very approachable. BAT fostering a heavy corporate environment does however mean that the dress code is formal which affects the atmosphere of the office
Before the placement started there was a 2 day induction organised for the placement students to come and meet the team and the rest of the placement students. Given the very volatile nature of the industry, the work that I was given was very structured and the objectives of my work were always clear. The cross-talk between the university and the company was easy considering the sensitive nature of the work completed at BAT.
The company is always ready to let students go on various trainings, internal and external to the company. This is however unsurprisingly dependent on project needs. I was offered 1 to 1 sessions with a business psychologist to discuss career opportunities and general professional issues. I was equally selected to go on two business trips including one to Canada.
As a placement student I was successful in applying for the Global Graduate Program which if successful enables you to enter a fast track ascension at BAT, starting at a higher level than normal, giving you access to high level of career support and extra training courses
The placement team organises a 2 day induction for the upcoming placement students enabling them to meet. This was an opportunity for us to choose where 6 of us would live together during the year. There is also numerous activities during the year organised at BAT which enable the placement students to meet up.
Coming from the University of Bath, the cost of living in Southampton was very low. The student area is close to where the company is located making it affordable and practical.
Being a city with two universities, Southampton has a strong nightlife
BAT organise company wide social events alongside other smaller events including an impressive Christmas Party.