I have definitely found my Placement year at MSD an insightful and enjoyable experience. I think the company culture is what really makes it- the people there value you and your opinion and there is so much to do alongside your everyday role. There is a good social side to the placement both with other employees and other students
Although you are a student, you aren't really treated any differently to other employees. I felt very at home, particularly within my team, and i felt as if the work i was doing had some importance. There were some incentive schemes which weren't offered to the students which perhaps could have been just to make it more rewarding for students.
I felt well supported, both by my manager and the rest of the team. We had regular catch ups so i could raise any issues. I was also supported by the Early Talent Team who focused specifically on students and graduates and was a great way of ensuring you were getting the most out of your placement year.
Although this varied a lot throughout the year, i would say on the whole it was balanced. I would raise any issues with my team so i could either get additional support or more tasks to do. There are also specific schemes for projects to get involved with outside your everyday role which i think is a really good opportunity
Even though i was a placement student i was still given a large amount of responsibility with business critical work. I definitely think i was given the right amount of responsibility, when i was given a task i was left to use my own initiative for the most part but also could get some assistance if it was needed. You can get involved in as much as you like so it depends on how you act as to how much responsibility you get.
My actual role didn't have much relevance to my degree, however i developed technical and soft skills which are going to help me in both my degree and future career. This ranges from communication and presentation skills to data analysis and excel skills. There were specific training courses and workshops as well as e-learning modules to complete which ensured you had a good understanding
The office had a friendly atmosphere and was a good working environment. I particularly liked that there were a lot of events organised such as 'lunch and learns' where you listen to a guest speaker whilst being provided with a lunch. The office had facilities such as a canteen, games room and gym which you could make use of during your lunch, and there were a lot of places you could work as well as your desk. The head office is moving to London next year which i think which will have a more exciting, modern and lively vibe.
There was a fair amount of structure throughout the year- i think its mainly down to your team and how they manage it. You get given a two week handover period at the start so you can ensure you are trained and settled in well. You can have check ins with your manager/HR at any point to ensure you are progressing well. Overall, the placement scheme was well organised yet adaptable to the current times.
A lot of time and effort was invested into my personal development and training, through various schemes and activities. There were schemes such as the Early Talent Forum set up specifically for students which enabled us to make the most of our placement year. As part of this there was a buddy scheme with students and graduates so we were able to use this to get advice and raise any issues. There were also workshops such as a presentation workshop and a real world negotiating workshop organised directly by the company which i found particularly useful. The training site and e-learning modules also helped to gain better knowledge in your job role.
Working from home
There are a few graduate roles that MSD offer which sound appealing so i am definitely considering this. Over my year on placement, i have used this opportunity to meet new people and find out about many different roles in the company- some of which i am going to look into more.
As a student cohort we did a lot of social activities together. There was about 15 of us in head office so it was quite easy to organise activities outside work, especially as a few of us lived together/really close by. Within work they also organised specific events just for the students such as trips to the other MSD sites- though sadly these got cancelled due to Covid-19. As a company a lot of events were organised such as team lunches/dinners, parties and other events so the social scene was very good.
The cost of living was more on the expensive side although still cheaper than living in London. I lived in Hertford where big supermarkets, pubs, train and bus stations were within walking distance which was definitely convenient. I was doing a lot of travelling at weekends to see friends in London but you can easily get a travelcard/discounts on train fares.
I lived in Hertford (10 minute drive from the office) which was a nice town full of pubs and a few clubs. As a student group we would go out here a fair bit as it was convenient. If we wanted a bigger night out or more variety then we would go into London as this was only about half an hour on the train- a bit more expensive but still fun.
Outside of your job role you could get involved with a lot of networks which had been set up by the company, which was a great way to meet new people. I also tended to use the gym a lot outside of work- there are various ones throughout the area but also a company one at the office where they run various fitness classes.
Placement Year (10 Months+)
8th June 2020