1. To what extent did you enjoy your work placement or internship?
My time at Network Rail has been really enjoyable, there have been many different opportunities and variety within my role which I love, and a chance to develop my skills. Since the start of the placement I have interacted with many stakeholders, participated in, and arranged meetings, been on site visits and more. The rail industry is so vast and there is always something new to learn and try out, I feel like my commercial awareness has increased while working at Network Rail.
2. To what extent did you feel valued by your colleagues?
I feel incredibly valued by my colleagues and I have been given large projects over the year. Everyone was willing to show me what they do and let me help, where I can see the benefit of my input. Also, I received feedback through the year and at the end of the placement my colleagues said they really appreciated my help this year.
3. To what extent were you given support and guidance by management/your supervisor(s)?
Everyone is keen to help you with anything and I never felt silly asking questions. I had regular 1 to 1's every month and had a mentor and a line manager who were both really helpful. Additionally, I had mid- year and year reviews of my progress and any future goals.
4. How busy were you on a daily basis?
It depends on where you are with each project, on some days I wouldn't have much to do, then on other days I would have a lot to do. It was a nice balance because it meant I could explore different departments when I had some downtime on my projects.
5. How much responsibility were you given during your placement?
I was given a lot of responsibility, my biggest project was a £1.5million to improve facilities at a local station. I couldn't have asked for anything more as I was trusted with many projects, all different stages and sizes. However, there is enough support if needed, you aren't just left to do it all alone.
6. To what extent did/will the skills you developed, and training you received, assist you in your degree studies and beyond?
I have greatly developed my confidence, communication, organisational skills and work ethic through the year, this will help me in my studies and when I do essays. Also, I have learnt how to balance work and university essays and reports and this will help with any future job and university.
7. What was the general atmosphere in your office?
Very chilled, everyone is really friendly and you can chat to your work colleagues whenever you liked. Also, we have been out quite a few times as a team which is fun. There is dress- down Friday every week which is even more chill as you can wear what you want.
8. How well organised was the overall work placement or internship set up?
When I arrived my team already had a laptop and phone set up for me. I received some PPE but other items didn't arrive, but you can borrow them when you need them. There was an induction with all the other Year in Industry students on your first week which was helpful too as you don't feel like you're starting alone. However, you do need to be proactive and ask for what you want as there is unlikely to be a year's worth of work waiting for you.
9. In terms of personal training and development, to what extent did the company or firm invest in you?
There was a training module for my area that was cancelled and never rearranged. There was also other training days and courses you can do online. There is better opportunities on the graduate scheme as you can work towards a qualification and Network Rail can help you with funds towards other qualifications.
10. What were the perks on your work placement?
Above 25 days holiday
Working from home
11. How appealing are future employment prospects within the organisation?
Very good, I have already been offered a graduate position within Network Rail and I am planning to start back next September. When you do a year in industry with Network Rail, it's a really good chance to get onto the graduate scheme, as long as you prove you want the job and you're enthusiastic to work.
12. Was there a good social scene amongst any fellow placement students/colleagues?
We sometimes had lunch and chatted but it's what you make of it really. Network Rail won't organise anything specific, you will need to just meet up yourselves, however, a lot of the other students are keen to meet each other too so it's not hard to make new friends.
13. What was the cost of living and socialising in the area you worked in?
I lived at home with my parents, however, if you're moving to Manchester then expect city prices of living. Socialising is good as there are so many restaurants and food places in Manchester. Also, Piccadilly station is amazing for freebies so make sure you walk through there every so often.
14. What was the Nightlife like in the area you worked?
Manchester is a good area for Nightlife, there are a range of different clubs for everyone and it's always a bustling city. As it's a big city you can't really go wrong with it or ask for more, plus it isn't as expensive as London and you can get a few happy hours in certain bars.
15. Were there many opportunities to get involved in activities outside of work?
There aren't loads of clubs but if you have a look around there are a few things you can join in with. The main one is a charity boxing match that Network Rail have held for 3 years, you get free training for 12 weeks with other colleagues in preparation for fight night.