1. To what extent did you enjoy your work placement or internship?
As a chemical engineering student, I was initially frustrated when I was placed in a product development team which wasn't the job I had applied for. However, I did end up enjoying certain aspects of the work more than I thought and I found I could add value to the team with my different background.
2. To what extent did you feel valued by your colleagues?
After the first 6 months, I had properly found my feet and built more confidence which was when I was given more important work. I definitely felt valued by all the people I worked with across several functions and got good exposure from this.
3. To what extent were you given support and guidance by management/your supervisor(s)?
The team and the rest of the office were really friendly and helpful and keen to support all aspects of my development. I was able to get mentored by a director which was really insightful and helped me to plan my career. If I needed any technical advice it was really easy to get help from any experts I asked.
4. How busy were you on a daily basis?
Working in R&D is really varied and the workload changes all the time as projects get dropped all the time and new ones come up. Some weeks I was really busy and stressed and other weeks I had very little to do so it balanced out quite well overall.
5. How much responsibility were you given during your placement?
I was lucky to be given a lot of responsibility on my placement but it mostly depends on your manager as other interns found they weren't being given the same opportunities. There was also no pressure if I got stuff wrong which didn't hold me back from trying new things.
6. To what extent did/will the skills you developed, and training you received, assist you in your degree studies and beyond?
The placement was really good for developing all my soft skills and building my confidence in the workplace. The interns all received excel and presentation training which was really helpful. However I used very little of my course knowledge. Food R&D was mostly science and mechanical engineering over chemical engineering.
7. What was the general atmosphere in your office?
The office was very friendly and a nice place to work. You could approach almost anyone at their desk and they would be willing to help or have a chat. There wasn't a very hierarchical culture either and people that are very high up would make time for everyone too. Great networking opportunities at the coffee machine!
8. How well organised was the overall work placement or internship set up?
The placement was well organised and set up as the site takes around 13 interns every year. They also took on feedback throughout the year on how to improve the process. The way all the interns were assessed was very structured and it was clear what was expected of us.
9. In terms of personal training and development, to what extent did the company or firm invest in you?
There was a key focus on personal development on the placement, more so than completing the work that was set for us. There were several training sessions and we were set up with all the skills we needed to succeed in our roles. All the interns were also given opportunities to connect with directors and senior leadership to improve our exposure.
10. What were the perks on your work placement?
Staff Sales/Staff Shop
Working from home
11. How appealing are future employment prospects within the organisation?
Students that performed well in the end of year calibration are invited back into permanent roles. However there is no grad scheme so this somewhat limits you if you want to move around different functions to find what you like. I would be interested in joining the company later on after I have found experience elsewhere.
12. Was there a good social scene amongst any fellow placement students/colleagues?
We were encouraged to find houses and live close together which was helpful and improved the social life a bit. I had a small group of friends that were willing to socialise but most of the other interns didn't socialise and went home every weekend. We had several meals out with colleagues which was nice.
13. What was the cost of living and socialising in the area you worked in?
All the interns lived in the student area so living costs were very cheap. I was able to save a lot of the money I earned that year even with 2 big holidays. The city centre was walkable from the student area and was easy to get to London on a 1 hour train.
14. What was the Nightlife like in the area you worked?
The clubs in Leicester aren't great compared to if you were living in a big city but we had a few good nights there. While the uni students were around in the city the nightlife was a lot better but the rest of the year was quite quiet. Pubs and bars are good and nothing was overly expensive.
15. Were there many opportunities to get involved in activities outside of work?
There were several org health initiative teams that we were all encouraged to get involved in to improve the community on site. I was part of the planet team that campaigned to reduce the environmental impact of the site which was a good way to meet people and do something worthwhile.