M&S Business Placement Program working in the Food Technology department
1. To what extent did you enjoy your work placement or internship?
Working at M&S was a rewarding experience, with lots of engaging projects to work on. The work was varied with lots of trips to visit suppliers which was exciting and meant you where out of the office 1-2 days a week. The placement allowed myself to learn a lot more in dept knowledge on how a large food retailer works and put in to practice some knowledge i'd learnt on my degree.
2. To what extent did you feel valued by your colleagues?
I felt valued by my colleagues day to day as they slowly gave me larger amounts of responsibility and would invite me to attend meetings and supplier visits. I was also invited to a few social events which helped me to get to know my colleagues better and feel like part of the team.
3. To what extent were you given support and guidance by management/your supervisor(s)?
I was supported by my manager 100% of my time at M&S. We'd have weekly/fortnightly meetings where I could raise any issues/difficulties I was having with my work and we'd work through them together. If I ever had a problem I knew I could report to my manager and get the support I needed.
4. How busy were you on a daily basis?
Most days I felt as though I had enough work to do as I had a project to work in the background if i ran out of other tasks to complete. Some days where better than others as work could dry up every now and a then but there was usually something going on that you could shadow such as a meeting.
On other occasions the work load could be slightly over bearing and it was beneficial to put in extra hours past the normal 8.30-5 to meet deadlines.
5. How much responsibility were you given during your placement?
I was given a project to complete and present to the wider M&S team during my placement. Through this i would talk to and visit suppliers independently. I was also given weekly responsibilities to complete and report on during team meetings. Due to the nature of my placement it would have been difficult to have more responsibility than i was given.
6. To what extent did/will the skills you developed, and training you received, assist you in your degree studies and beyond?
I attending some training days/sessions while at M&S which helped me to gain knowledge in particular degree areas such as microbiology.
Skills that were built upon included team work, accountability, time management and much more.
A lot of what I learnt is applicable to my final year of studies and will help me to be successful in many modules
7. What was the general atmosphere in your office?
As i joined the business M&S had recently adopted a new office policy called hot desking. This meant some people where uncomfortable with the change and not being able to sit in the same place everyday. But as a placement student this worked in my favor as it meant i sat next to someone new each day and improved working relationships with my colleagues.
8. How well organised was the overall work placement or internship set up?
The placement was organised well and split in to two 6 month sections, 6 months in head office and 6 months at a supplier. Due to the project running through the placement you always had a aim to focus on which was very beneficial.
The nature of the job is that every day is different but once you get into that head space it works well.
9. In terms of personal training and development, to what extent did the company or firm invest in you?
The company invested heavily in my learning sending me out regularly to suppliers with different food categories, meant I got to see a variety of factory's. I was able to attend training days to further my understanding on specified subjects which could be applied to my work day to day.
10. What were the perks on your work placement?
Staff Sales/Staff Shop
11. How appealing are future employment prospects within the organisation?
Future prospects are good within the company as there is a good graduate scheme in place. However after reflecting on my placement year I don't think it is the correct business for me to start my career in as I want to explore other job roles and potential career pathways.
12. Was there a good social scene amongst any fellow placement students/colleagues?
The placements students across departments weren't introduced which was frustrating and it took a few months to get to meet everyone. Once we met we went for lunch a few times. The only issues was we all lived in different areas and this meant we didn't tend to socialise much after work.
13. What was the cost of living and socialising in the area you worked in?
London is an expensive place to live however it is taken into account in the amount you are paid, even so if you don't budget correctly it can be tricky. The tube is expensive so it can be useful to invest in a bike to get around. Socializing is expensive however there are plenty of free events around London that you should make the most of.
14. What was the Nightlife like in the area you worked?
Nightlife in the direct vicinity to the office was good with many pubs nearby that people would socialize in after work. In London there are many places with amazing nightlife all over the city depending on what style of music you enjoy. Again make the most of free/discounted events when possible.
15. Were there many opportunities to get involved in activities outside of work?
Again in London there is endless activities to get involved in however there weren't any/very few led by M&S. Activities can be expensive but you can make the most of student discounts and M&S did offer a few discounts for certain companies.