It was a very enjoyable year. The workplace is a great environment, largely due to the staff and culture. This comes from the top management and stems throughout the organisation. There is a passion and community to Volkswagen Group, all with aligned visions. It gave me the opportunity to wok in an industry-leading business. In addition, there were good benefits, such as the company cars and bonus.
There is a community feel to the business, with a lot of collaboration. This is particularly visible in the smaller brands. The result of this is that every chips in and contributes. However, I felt that sometimes individual contributions could be missed and not celebrated enough, whilst smaller, less significant contributions received greater recognition.
I was given exceptional support from management, notably my line manager. If ever I had a problem or question, they would be there to support and guide me in the right direction. I can not praise them enough. Higher management were supportive too. They were approachable and would communicate effectively with subordinates.
I was particularly busy towards the start of the month, due to my role having a large focus on reporting on Month End and Forecasting. Following the first week, my workload tailed out as the month progressed. I still received ad hoc requests to keep myself occupied, but did sometimes struggle with findings things to do.
I was given a fair amount of responsibility, particularly from my line manager. I was able to be self-dependant and just get on with my own work. I was also given the responsibility of covering for my manager in their absence, including the producing the monthly forecast, which normally a higher-level task. I was also involved in a project that was under the directive of the Managing Director. We were given the independence to complete this on our own accord, without micro-management.
There are many skills that will be invaluable throughout my final year at university, as well as my future career. The main one being IT Skills. I was competent going into the year, but this year really enhanced these skills, particularly within Excel and real-life coding. I completed both Intermediate and Advanced Excel Courses. The experience of working in a large organisation is also important as I am now aware of the way in which to act, as well as how and why these business operates in the way that they do.
The atmosphere in the office was really friendly and family-orientated. This was more notable in the smaller brands, like VWCV, where it was common for each department to pitch in with one another to complete a task and meet objectives. I'm aware that each brand is different, with some having a more traditional corporate setting.
The organisation was good from the beginning. I received my offer in December, a few weeks after my assessment centre, meaning I was able to secure my placement year before Christmas. During the year, there has been several events such as course for the Undergraduates. There is sometimes a lack of communication, such as end dates, but was generally fine.
There are many ways that the company invests in its people. There was always a variety of courses being put on for personal development, located both on and off-site. This is highlighted and recommended through the company's appraisal scheme, which might identify an area to improve, with taking a relevant course being an appropriate action.
Above 25 days holiday
Working from home
There is a clear route to higher level management within the organisation. There are also many examples of "success stories" from the Undergraduate and Graduate Schemes showing this. However, I think these schemes may be a little outdated now, with talent retention dropping and not adapting the scheme to suit the current needs. There, on the other hand, plenty of opportunities for a variety of work as there is plenty of internal recruitment, meaning you could take a similar level role in a different brand to gain more experience but maintain interest.
The fellow placement students were all pleasant and I was able to get on with them. However, I lived at home during the year, and kept myself to myself, so did not always make the most of those opportunities. I am aware that those that lived together did have a fairly reasonable social scene, though.
During the placement year I decided to live at home and commute. Having spoken to fellow placement students and colleagues, Milton Keynes is quite an expensive place to live, particularly for students. It is important to do adequate research to ensure you find a reasonable place to live at a good price, whilst staying in a nice location. From a social perspective, it is fairly standard prices, particularly when going into MK Centre and Intu Shopping Centre.
The nightlife is fairly limited in Milton Keynes. There are a few popular bars and clubs, but this is a restricted number. To counter this, people do enjoy their nights out in Milton Keynes. In addition, there is easy access into London if required, so good transport links are available if needed.
There were a few opportunities to get involved in activities outside of work. A main one for me being football. Within my first few days I was signed up to be part of a charity football tournament. From that, I created a network which enabled me to join other brands in a weekly 5-a-side game. I played with numerous brands within the Group ,so meant I met colleagues I otherwise wouldn't have done so.
Placement Year (10 Months+)
2nd June 2020