Very much. Work at DSTL can be challenging and varied. One of the main advantages is that you can be signed onto several projects at once. This means that work carried out can differ day to day keeping it engaging. One day you could be carrying out theoretical work and the next you could be doing very hands on work. I really enjoyed this aspect.
From the first day of the placement you will generally find you are treated like staff rather than a student. You attend team meeting, may have to provide presentations and write reports and will have check-ups with a buddy or line manager. The harder you work, the more likely you are to be given responsibility, and the more valued you will feel.
There is pretty much an open door policy for seeking advice at DSTL, whether the advice is technical or concerning other work related concerns. I always felt I could email, call or message my line manager, or simply go and knock on their door for support. Colleges were always happy to answer technical questions and were keen for students to learn.
This tended to vary. Being involved with several projects allows each person to manage their own work to some extent, but this can also mean that there are several people who may check in on you and make sure that the work you are doing is moving along. I never found this an issue though and supervisors very understanding if one project had a higher priority than another.
A large amount of responsibility is afforded to those who have the ability to handle a given task, which is possibly one of the best things about working here. If a person is unfamiliar with something help will be provided, so the amount of responsibly a person gets is dependent on there attitude and skill set.
There is opportunity to get involved with a range of work covering a wide range of disciplines. I found my manager/ supervisor was happy to guide me towards work that was relevant to my degree, but also was keen for me to try new things. It really is up to you (aside from the restriction of what work is actually available at a given time).
People in the office were friendly. The size of the office varied. I knew people who were in very small offices and often on their own, and others in large offices that were always busy. My office was medium sized, and I had plenty of opportunity to socialise at lunch/ outside of work anyway.
This can vary. Personally, those I worked with were able to be very flexible and tailor the placement to satisfy the requirement of my university. Depending on the department/work available/security restrictions, sometimes it could be difficult for the organisation to fully stick to any plan. However I think this would be the same for any real business.
There is tons of training. There is a list of mandatory training that new starters must complete, ranging from practical fire safety to how to effectively manage information. There is plenty of opportunity for technical training, if you can present a business case for why you should attend a training course, their is no reason why you shouldn't be allowed to go.
Sports and Social Club
Working from home
As far as I am aware, DSTL are always looking for technical staff in the STEM field. A graduate program after completing the placement and graduating from a degree is a logical step for many placement students, and DSTL recognise and encourage this. They invest a lot of resources in you so want you back!
Personally for me there was. I was lucky enough to live near other placement students, so saw them regularly. There is also an internal organisation for new starters that provide technical development (lectures/talks/networking) as well as social events (theatre, amusement parks, museums are events that have happened while I was here).
I worked on the site near London. Unfortunately, house shares and flats around here are subject to London prices to some extent, and are attractive for commuters heading to central London. Placement students are paid what is typical for the role nationwide and there is no such thing as a 'Placement Student London Living Wage'. Having said that, I completed the year under my own steam and had enough money for socialising as well. Just don't expect to have pots of cash lying around at the end of the placement...
In the immediate area: average at best. There were a few bars and some nice restaurants, one that ran a pub quiz we would attend regularly (and most importantly a spoons!). However with central London on your door step, there is plenty of opportunities for a night out of any description.
Yes. As mentioned there was a organisation for new starters that put on technical and social events. There were also a few clubs/meet-ups for football and running (at least those are the two I'm aware of). Aside from that, if you choose to live locally you will probably find other students/graduates do too.
Placement Year (10 Months+)
11th November 2019