I very much enjoyed my time at Network Rail, it was rewarding not only from a professional point of view but also developed me personally and has given me a lot of skills that I think will benefit me in my final year at university and in future career ambitions.
I felt valued by my colleagues although I feel this was definitely earned on my part. Throughout the year my team was in a state of transition and there were a lot of gaps that needed to be filled - for this reason I often found myself doing work beyond what was expected of me which in turn made me a valued member of the team.
Support and guidance was always there for me if I needed it but, as with many aspects of this placement, you had to be self-starting and would only receive this guidance if you were asking the right questions and trying to get as much business exposure as you possibly could.
As with any job, this placement was no different. It ebbed and flowed throughout the year, occasionally I find myself with spare time to work on some self-starting projects and other times these would have to be put on hold as I worked hard for the greater good of the team.
As before mentioned, due to my team being in transition throughout my year with the company I often found myself carrying out roles that were far greater than what would normally be expected of a YII student. Sometimes, the level of responsibility I was given was daunting but I'm better for it as I depart now.
I think I have definitely developed a greater clarity of thought and an ability to structure information and arguments in a more concise manner which will certainly help me in my final year of study. On top of this, I gained a certificate of accreditation at my time with Network Rail which will further my career prospects.
My office base was split between Swindon and Bristol. Unfortunately I was based in Swindon and the rest of my team in Bristol which meant I spent a lot of this year on my own at my desk. This wasn't much fun at all but the days I did have in Bristol were great and I've made some great friends.
I think this varies massively from team to team. I was fortunate to have a very supportive line-manager who made sure I got everything I wanted out of the year. This being said, my biggest piece of advice would be that you have to be pro-active in making the placement work for you as the company won't bring it to your doorstep!
Network Rail were great for this. My manager regularly encouraged me to put myself forward for things and would always support me in anything I wanted to do. Network Rail paid to put me through an IEMA course which means I'm know an associated member of this chartered body - something I can take away from this year and apply to further careers.
Above 25 days holiday
Working from home
There's definitely an option to return after you've completed your study. This is something I'll seriously consider as I can see a career path at Network Rail that will be beneficial to me as a graduate. As with anything though, this depends on your degree of study and what you're hoping to achieve in the long-term
The YII cohort as a whole are fairly left up to their own devices in terms of making friends and organising socials. I wouldn't say my group were particularly sociable but I made a lot of friends in the organisation outside of my cohort which I think is a really beneficial thing to do.
I actually commuted to Swindon everyday from Reading in order to stay living with some of my friends from university. On reflection, I think this was a great decision as the social scene in Swindon is fairly non-existent and I know a few of my colleagues struggled. Once again though, it is what you make it.
As mentioned before, nightlife in Swindon is fairly non-existent and I know some of my cohort struggled with this. I'm very glad I made the decision to commute from Reading and stay living with my university friends.
I wouldn't say there was anything set up in particular. A few colleagues had taken it upon themselves to play football on a Tuesday night which I joined but this was more of an invite as opposed to something the company set up that anyone could join in with.
Placement Year (10 Months+)
East of England