1. To what extent did you enjoy your work placement or internship?
I really enjoyed my time at Network Rail, it is a very professional company with a huge range of jobs. There was opportunity to move around the various departments to get a feel for the company as a whole which made it very enjoyable. The work I was given increased my skillset whilst not being so alien that I couldn't understand what to do. It was very enjoyable working on the railway as there lots of opportunity to travel and great people to meet.
2. To what extent did you feel valued by your colleagues?
During my year in the company I felt very valued by colleagues, I was treated as a regular employee and my team were very helpful and understanding. Almost everyone is approachable and helpful and the work you complete is considered valuable and an asset to the company. All of the work I completed was valued and I was always given credit where due.
3. To what extent were you given support and guidance by management/your supervisor(s)?
Whenever help was required, I could approach my supervisor without any hesitation and ask for help. She was kind and professional and always kept me up to date. When I required emergency time off I was allowed it without any trouble and given all the support needed to be able to make work effective and enjoyable.
4. How busy were you on a daily basis?
As with any job, how busy you are depends on how well you manage your work. I believe I was given a good amount of work without it being overloaded or so less that I was bored. Some days it was a bit more than usual but always manageable. The way the year in industry works is that it gives you time in other departments so you spend your time doing a variety of tasks.
5. How much responsibility were you given during your placement?
My main duties involved continuous communication with external companies, requiring me to be very professional and responsible. I chaired meetings, created reports, lead conference calls and lead my own project. I believe I was given enough responsibility to help me grow but not too much that I became intimidated. Overall I think it was a good balance.
6. To what extent did/will the skills you developed, and training you received, assist you in your degree studies and beyond?
The year in industry was a vital part in improving my communication and presenting skills - essential in any job. Apart from this I was exposed to managerial skills and business management. As my degree is in engineering I would have liked it to be more engineering focused but as I was placed in a more business department it wasn't so prevalent. Overall the skills I have developed will help me a lot in my final year at university and in jobs to come.
7. What was the general atmosphere in your office?
The office is a great environment and gives you the chance to meet a variety of people, not just those in your team. As the offices are generally quite open planned you interact with people across the business which gives you great exposure. People are generally very nice and helpful.
8. How well organised was the overall work placement or internship set up?
The year in industry is a generally well organised program, giving a good amount of work to its participants and also the opportunity to travel across the country. I was able to spend time in all of the departments I wished whilst being able to complete the work I was given on time.
9. In terms of personal training and development, to what extent did the company or firm invest in you?
I attended various training courses to help develop my skills. These included engineering related courses, practical maintenance courses and health and safety. There is a wide range of courses available and my supervisor was very accommodating in allowing me to attend any of the courses available. I attended roughly 50 hours of training online and at various venues during my year in the company. I also attended a course at the University of Birmingham and was able to learn about some of the courses they have bespoke for Network Rail and the rail industry.
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?
I look very forward to working with the organisation again and have been lucky to have seen a lot of the departments to have a clearer idea of which part of the company I would like to work in. Upon successfully completing the year, the company offers students to return on the graduate program if they perform well.
12. Was there a good social scene amongst any fellow placement students/colleagues?
I was able to interact with fellow students from lots of different universities and we were able to share our experiences and recommend departments to each other. We often met for lunch and did activities outside of work. The placement was great as it allowed me to meet many people that I would not have met otherwise.
13. What was the cost of living and socialising in the area you worked in?
As I was based in Birmingham, the cost of living is quite good just outside the centre. Socialising is also well priced with there being a wide range of restaurants, activity centres and gyms. There are lots of coffee shops and bars around the city making it a highly sociable place.
14. What was the Nightlife like in the area you worked?
I don't know much about nightlife in Birmingham therefore cannot comment.
15. Were there many opportunities to get involved in activities outside of work?
The company offers 5 volunteer days per year for you to get involved in charitable work of your choice. There are also many physical activities such as football and cricket teams. The students in the company were able to organise an activity day for all of us to meet and interact.