BAE Systems is an exciting company to have an industrial placement in - I had a good view of the way that the entire business ran, and had a well rounded day to day job. It was slow to start - beginning in the summer means that you start as many people are off on leave which can get in the way of on-boarding. That being said, once I was fully fledged in my role, it was definitely a good experience and an accurate taste of life working in the defence industry.
My colleagues helped to guide me as I joined the company, and soon respected me as they would a permanent employee. There was no condescension and I definitely felt like a fully valued team member.
I had two managers - one administrational and one within my team. Each was very good at providing guidance and answering my questions and concerns. I had fortnightly check-ins with my line manager to see how I was doing, check my workload was not too great or too low and to see if I needed any help from them with any of my work.
Finding a balance was difficult. At the beginning, there is little to do as it takes a long time to get onto the IT system and you have little understanding of what's going on. I found that my work ebbed and flowed - some weeks I was rushed off my feet and others I had to bug my manager for odd jobs.
My placement was in a management team - which may skew me to say that I had more responsibility than average. That being said, I was given my own projects that were meaningful and needed by the company, and was trusted and respected by my colleagues to do what was required of me. There was no sense that I was being given things to do for the sake of it - I was needed as much as anyone else.
For my degree, not a lot, as I study Physics and this was an engineering role. In terms of general skills for the workplace and beyond, I have learned a lot - about presentation and behaviour, how a large company runs and skills specific to BAE also. I feel a lot more prepared to enter the world of work that had I not taken a year out of my studies to do this placement.
Not the most exciting atmosphere - people are friendly but there's not a lot of chat that's not about work, and there weren't many social events outside of the office. It didn't help that the industrial placement students are scattered across the country, so we didn't get to interact with each other much.
By the end of it, I definitely felt its value and that I knew what I was doing, but at the beginning it was a lot of work to set myself up - there wasn't a formal list of accounts to be set up, what I needed to be able to work from home, go on business trips etc, I pretty much had to figure it out as I went along for the first 3 months. There was only one organised activity for industrial placement students other than the entry/ exit events, as opposed to the grads who had many "extra-curricular" training units.
I was able to sign up for training and learning where I came across it, as well as being put onto two mandatory courses: one for mental health awareness in the office, and another team training trip for the industrial placement students. The graduates do seem to have a lot more opportunities for development than the industrial placement students though.
Working from home
If you are rated highly enough in your placement by your manager, you'll be given an automatic offer for a grad scheme, which you will be told about before/ as you leave the company. If not, it is still possible to be fast tracked onto summer internships or grad scheme interviews for the following year.
Yes and no. everyone is lovely but it's not a massive social crowd. It's not guaranteed there will be other students on site. Glasgow is a pretty good bet, otherwise it's pretty touch and go whether you'll have another IP working near you. We were all encouraged to stay in touch, and we did have a few opportunities to meet but you may not see many people your age. Social events between colleagues were fun but mostly limited to business trips and leaving drinks.
I was in Bristol - it's pretty expensive accommodation-wise, but for food/ events/ going out I would say it's as cheap or as expensive as anywhere else I've lived. A brilliant night life in the city, and quiet enough if you live up nearer work.
Bristol has something for everyone, and even if you don't live near the centre the transport links are pretty good in and out of the city.
I would always go to events/ dinners/ drinks on a business trip but otherwise I didn't really mingle socially with my colleagues. Outside of the workplace, you can take up pretty much any hobby you want in the city and find a space to do it.
Placement Year (10 Months+)
24th June 2020