1. To what extent did you enjoy your work placement or internship?
As with any internship, the work could have been more challenging. I was lucky with regards to my team, and it is a welcoming and friendly place to work. However I think my main issue was simply that the work itself was sparse and frequently very low level, the interns felt like an underused resource.
2. To what extent did you feel valued by your colleagues?
My manager was supportive, although often absent, and when she was gone, colleagues found it difficult to allocate me work. My team were all lovely, although some inappropriate comments around my eating habits were definitely stressful for someone struggling with body image and food. Overall they made me feel welcome however.
3. To what extent were you given support and guidance by management/your supervisor(s)?
When she was there, my manager was good. She was sympathetic, but to the point of not pushing me enough. I don't feel like I was truly valued in terms of my work, and I felt under utilised. I think she is a lovely person but I felt support was limited at best in terms of my career.
4. How busy were you on a daily basis?
Definitely an issue with workload. We were not set large enough projects that we would be consistently kept occupied, instead were frequently trying to figure out where the next piece of work would come from. This is understandable to an extent, but equally you become a nuisance up to a point when you're constantly asking for more work.
5. How much responsibility were you given during your placement?
Definitely would have liked more responsibility, and any level of trust being given. I think that goes hand in hand with the lack of work. If you've been vetted and interviewed to get there, then you should be given adequate opportunities when at the company. I felt there was little space given for that.
6. To what extent did/will the skills you developed, and training you received, assist you in your degree studies and beyond?
Nothing ground breaking skills wise, but good experience and a good feel for office life, which is very different to the world of my degree. Seems unfair that the finance students were set up for grad scheme interviews whilst those of us in HR were very much neglected, questionable why even hire us as interns in that case.
7. What was the general atmosphere in your office?
It was nice, very flexible and laid back. Surprisingly relaxed, but to the point where you didn't feel pushed enough often. Nice enough for the summer, but for your long term career prospects, the future looked more likely to stagnate than to progress. Obviously it varies which team and department you are with.
8. How well organised was the overall work placement or internship set up?
It was very poorly organised. Travel discounts which are huge in relation to affording the commute were promised, and in our contracts, but never delivered on. IT equipment issues, which are understandable to a point, were never resolved. My laptop was broken on the first day, and this was never fixed. I had to borrow someone else's for the rest of the placement. I was only given half a charger.
9. In terms of personal training and development, to what extent did the company or firm invest in you?
There was no development or training whatsoever. No feeling of any long term investment, that you were being taken seriously in any way really, by anyone in the company. Mandatory e-learning was as involved as it got. Understandable the placement was short, but nonetheless, some level of further support should really have been given, we had the time and the want.
10. What were the perks on your work placement?
Working from home
11. How appealing are future employment prospects within the organisation?
Relatively appealing. The grad scheme is well paid, if rather short term. The office seems nice enough to work in, and the company values overall are good. But the location is off-putting, and the lack of organisation does not spell out good things for incoming graduates when considering the company.
12. Was there a good social scene amongst any fellow placement students/colleagues?
None at all. As mentioned, there was no effort to co-ordinate a group of interns on Network Rail's part, meaning you could quite easily be the only intern in your office with no one to socialise with. Colleagues were friendly but ultimately much older and at a different life stage.
13. What was the cost of living and socialising in the area you worked in?
Milton Keynes is arguably the worst part of Network Rail. There is no life and not only that, the interns were not introduced to each other, we had to hunt each other out to try and establish any form of group or network to get by socially in an office of much older people.
14. What was the Nightlife like in the area you worked?
Milton Keynes has absolutely no nightlife. I was commuting anyway, so any events organised by the interns, however well intended, were limited to those who could attend/stay overnight and those who could not.
15. Were there many opportunities to get involved in activities outside of work?
Not really, there were the odd emails about voluntary work, but as someone commuting in from outside the local area, this was not applicable to me. Definite room for improvement.