I really enjoyed my year placement at Toyota as I was constantly doing different tasks and my projects allowed me to work in multiple sections of the manufacturing plant. Every day was different and I was on my feet sorting problems out rather than being sat behind a desk all day. I also had a large amount of responsibility, which benefited my own personal development and improved my confidence.
The size of the projects I was given made me feel my contribution to the company was important, as well as people asking me for help with their own projects. Everyone at the office made me feel very included and I settled in fast; despite the age difference between my colleagues and I, I was treated the same as everyone else.
I got on really well with both my supervisor and mentor and never felt like I couldn't go to them if I had a problem, or question. They were invested in my personal development and always pushed me to gain the most out of my experiences. Senior management were also very supportive of me throughout my placement and always gave helpful feedback after presentations etc.
My work day was normally quite balanced with a mix of meetings and time to work on personal projects. Some days did get quite busy with unexpected jobs, but it was a good opportunity to work on time management. If I felt I didn't have enough to do, I would just raise it to my supervisor who would give me new projects.
I was given responsibility of my project's very early on in the placement, but was supported by an engineer throughout. The amount of responsibility increased appropriately from the start of the placement to the end; this meant that I didn't feel too overwhelmed at the beginning. In a way, this was a big change from university as my projects affected others, rather than just myself which I was more used to.
I have managed to develop a variety of "soft" and "hard" skills whilst working at Toyota, which will be useful when I return to university and in my future career. My confidence in my own ability and the way I communicate with others has improved, as well as my presentation skills. There were many opportunities to present my projects, often to people I didn't know. I also had the opportunity to learn new technical skills, which were outside my normal area of study.
There was always a friendly atmosphere in the office and people were always willing to offer help, or answer questions. It was an easy atmosphere to get work done in, but there was always the opportunity to have a chat with someone. In terms of management, because they wore the same uniform etc., they were very approachable.
The placement was well organised with reviews and feedback sessions set up regularly. There was an induction day and meal out before the actual placement started, which was a chance to get to know the other placement students and see the area I'd be working. This was reassuring and made me feel more comfortable when I actually started.
Toyota ran several courses for both the industrial placement students and the grad students. These courses supported our projects and helped us develop skills that were transferrable to university and our future careers e.g. presentation skills, personal planning. We also had reports to complete that were marked so you received feedback you could work from.
Toyota hire a lot of graduates and placement students, so I think the future employment prospects are very positive. They're very keen on getting young people into the company, so I imagine this will continue. I'm hoping I'll be able to continue into the graduate scheme after my final year at university.
We all got on well as a group and some of the placement students got a flat together. However, we didn't end up meeting up too much, because we were often quite busy and didn't live to close to each other. We would all meet at work sometimes to go over our projects with each other.
Derby is a pretty cheap place to live and has a range of shops you can go to depending on how much you want to spend. In terms of socialising, there are a variety of pubs and bars, all suited for different budgets. Would still probably be a good idea to work out a budget and how much you want to spend each week.
Derby nightlife isn't great, but there is a main street that everyone goes out on and there's a university in Derby so there will be some student nights out. Derby is also pretty close to Nottingham and Birmingham so there are other places to go out as well if you want to try somewhere different.
I didn't get involved in much outside of work, but there were opportunities to join a netball team and I think some of the other placement students hosted football matches. It all depends on how involved you want to get, but it's probably better organising things within the placement student group.
Placement Year (10 Months+)
25th June 2020