I really enjoyed working here to the point I'm hoping to get a job back with the company when I graduate university. I entered into a role I've never heard of - project accounting which as I near the end of my placement has felt more of a hybrid of data analytics/project control/accounting. It's been a great experience, I've met some wonderful people and nothing can compare to working on a base with jets flying daily.
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At first I struggled to reconcile my place with the team - but that was on me. From my first day on the job I was handed over my role and had my own responsibilities. As time progressed I had more and more responsibility - many times representing my department in meetings where I would be the face of our finance department and by the end of the role being responsible for an entire area of our part of the business.
I felt valued by colleagues both inside and outside of my team where I took many opportunities to work within the greater area and consult and advise on areas outside of finance.
Within the role you have overall performance reviews every 6 months - half way through and at the end where your manager can provide formal feedback. However there are lots of opportunities for feedback throughout the year as many of the team were open to 1:1 meetings to discuss my role and what I could do to support them better or do my role better.
My managers and supervisors were outstanding. The man who trained in my role can only be described as a wizard as he could simultaneously juggle my tasks, his tasks and any ad hoc tasks that came through while he trained me. He was an excellent introduction to the company and an inspiration on how I'd like to be perceived in the workplace.
When I started I struggled to find tasks to fill my time due to beginning at half year - however BAE have taken on that feedback and allowed for a handover period between IPs to better facilitate handing over the workload and making sure a new starter knows what to do. I really appreciate this change as my first month was a struggle to fill my time but they were very responsive and proactive to our feedback.
My role was strange for consistent business. With any finance role you have peaks around year end and half year, there were also the monthly peaks where I would find myself with lots of tasks however the team was very open about deadlines and tips to achieve those deadlines and how to lean on them for advice.
Now I'm towards the end of my placement I'd say I'm busy 3/4 weeks of the month, with one week being more ad-hoc and catch up with tasks I might have lowered in prioritisation.
Some days I did feel overwhelmed - especially when training a new starter, however the team were very supportive and we could push/pull work around to suit us and make sure we achieved our goals together.
A significant amount off the get go in my eyes - my first day I was responsible for invoicing multiple projects, sourcing my own data and reconciling it back to the financials.
Gradually over the course of the placement they watch how you handle work (and also tell you off if you're allergic to saying no to tasks like me), and add more responsibility as they feel you can handle it.
In my case I was responsible for an area of the our section of the business including forecasting, the entire balance sheet, training a new starter in my entire role, working closely as a finance lead with a large project etc, attending meetings on behalf of finance, liaising with external companies for invoicing etc.
Again, this was a hybrid of roles in my opinion which after seeing other roles that were available I've really enjoyed. I feel I understand the need for project controllers, managers, accountants and data analytics all within our little area of the company.
This in turn leads back to having much stronger time management skills - I've never struggled with time management prior to this role but I feel more confident showcasing this skill. Greater excel skills - any accountant will be strong with Excel but I've seen some really interesting uses throughout my time here that I'll be continuing on.
There's also the general accounting skills and people skills that was required as while it's not a customer facing role, the office I worked in was one of the few where you work with your entire area so to have that opportunity again was great.
Again my office was one of the few where finance was situated in the area we supported. I found it great, if anything went wrong for your area it would impact the entire floor so you could commiserate with anyone or if it went well you could talk to anyone about it too.
I really took advantage of this to my managers dismay and reached out to work on a lot of projects with the project controllers/managers as I found their role extremely interesting.
Our floor was also full of engineers who had the best sense of humour and you'd always hear someone laughing or being loud which I really enjoyed - it never felt too serious.
The beginning was rough - there was no handover other than a paper guide and it was financial half year. As a result I felt I didn't get into the swing of my role until month two, however, BAE took this advice and implemented a week handover between IPs going forward which I found incredible. To listen to our feedback and actually make changes on it was really appreciated and made you realise they genuinely do listen to you and take into account your experience, not just the experience they think you had.
Otherwise, it was fantastic. A gradual build of responsibility and training throughout the year was perfect. I never felt surprised by any task/role as it was always subtly introduced before hand, working on it in smaller chunks then being handed the full role.
Money wise I'd say a lot as we had quite a few training days including an external company coming to train us in how we come across, how to nail elevator pitches, how to make a great first impression etc.
Development wise I'd say they train you to want you back. There's many tasks I've thought they're spending a LOT of time getting me involved with this only for me to be leaving in x amount of months whereas a permanent member of the team could be doing this but at no point have I ever thought that same thought crossed anyone elses mind. You're here to be trained and developed until your final day.
There is obviously a push to join the FLDP scheme in which you join a 5 year scheme to end up as finance manager. This rightfully is their pride and joy and I've heard from many other accountants throughout my time here that they wished they'd done the scheme.
However, personally for my own reasons the scheme doesn't work for me and they're equally open to that. They'll still support me to rejoin the company and encourage me back.
Placement students definitely, we formed a good bond on the assessment centre that carried through to the induction day of BAE where we met some more placement students. We all formed a close bond and stayed strong friends often going to lunch together or nights out.
Among colleagues there were plenty of opportunities inside/outside of work. Internally there were many events such as quiz's at lunches, sponsored days and externally there were nights out organised for our entire area.
Cost of living wasn't too bad, I lived right next to site in a private rental so I'd say if you were looking at doing that you would be looking at living expenses of around £600 including bills before food etc.
However you're never too far from an Aldi/Lidl or a pub for food or a night out so there were plenty of opportunities to go there.
I didn't personally take advantage of this however Warton was based next to Lytham, Preston (uni town), Blackpool which all had opportunities for nightlife, movies, bars, restaurants etc all which were very well priced - especially in Preston where as a student you could still take advantage of student offers.
Lots of opportunities including fundraising, quizzes, nights out with the larger team, volunteering etc. It is up to you to take advantage and seek out these opportunities but they're there if you want them.
I'd definitely recommend being outside of your little finance bubble and socialising with the larger team as then you have truly endless opportunities if that's what interests you.