1. To what extent did you enjoy your work placement or internship?
I really enjoyed my placement at GE Aviation. I worked on real life projects and faced real challenges from day one. I was able to see the difference my work was making to the business and there was always support available to me through my my mentor, colleagues and the intern team.
2. To what extent did you feel valued by your colleagues?
Through the numerous projects I managed and the teams I worked with, there was plenty of opportunity to prove what I was capable of and earn the respect of the management team as well as the shop floor engineers. My ideas were listened to and respected and I was treated on an equal footing to the full time employees.
3. To what extent were you given support and guidance by management/your supervisor(s)?
The internship programme is well established at Wales, so the support network for interns is extensive. Day to day, I could turn to my mentor as well as any other of the management team in my department for support and guidance. There are also elected interns that form a committee to voice any queries or issues to HR and senior leaders. Finally the intern team, consisting of full time staff (often past interns themselves), were always available to provide guidance and advice.
As COVID-19 became a threat in March 2020, the business took steps to ensure employee safety onsite (pre-lockdown) by introducing social distancing and increased personal hygiene measures very early on. As the UK went into lockdown at the end of March, interns were allowed to work remotely from home, again ensuring employee safety and wellbeing.
4. How busy were you on a daily basis?
Every day presented a new challenge and I was able to work alongside my mentor to ensure timely day to day operation of our areas. This allowed for time in the day for me to work on my improvement and Six Sigma projects, for which I had the full backing and support of my mentor and manager too.
5. How much responsibility were you given during your placement?
Being treated like a full-time staff member meant having a similar level responsibility too. When my mentor had taken leave or was off sick, I had to step in and make decisions that affected operations. Overseeing production and improvement projects, ensuring that departmental targets were achieved, while maintaining high a standard of quality and workplace safety across the nine teams who reported to us.
Towards the end of my placement, I assumed responsibility for two of these areas, reporting back to my mentor on their progress.
6. To what extent did/will the skills you developed, and training you received, assist you in your degree studies and beyond?
Working at GE Aviation has helped me decide what I want to look for in a graduate role when the time comes, exposing me to roles within the industry that I never had previously considered. In the more near future, I feel more prepared to tackle my final year of study, using the workplace skills I have developed to work efficiently when completing coursework assignments. It has also helped me decide on a topic of research for my final year dissertation.
7. What was the general atmosphere in your office?
The office was always busy, with people going to and fro from the shop floor and from meetings. All interns are seated nearby their mentor and other interns within the department, so there are plenty of people to turn to if you need assistance, or for a chat. Everybody kept to task but we definitely had a lot of fun too, not just the interns, but with senior staff too.
8. How well organised was the overall work placement or internship set up?
The internship was well structured, with a two week handover period to start with, where you shadow the intern before you, learning about your day to day roles and responsibilities. There were usually 2-3 intern training sessions per month, which touched on a wide range of topics, all aimed at improving your performance and ability to carry out cost saving projects. The placement focused on these cost saving projects, and was broken into three phases, with some presentations and training sessions required for you to officially complete each phase.
9. In terms of personal training and development, to what extent did the company or firm invest in you?
You have access to an extensive network of online learning tools, which you are encouraged to use if you have spare time during the day. Also, there are 2-3 training sessions per month, which are led by members of staff who volunteer to teach about their area of expertise, be it repair process engineers or PR and communications managers. A lot of investment goes into our development as many interns end up joining the business through leadership programmes or becoming employees once graduated.
10. What were the perks on your work placement?
Above 25 days holiday
11. How appealing are future employment prospects within the organisation?
The internship programme is seen as a feeder into the lucrative graduate programmes offered by the business. For operations and engineering interns especially, these programmes can fast track you to senior levels within 3 years, providing opportunity to move around the country and work on different sites/projects. Graduates of the OMLP and Edison programmes are well respected and highly valued in the company.
12. Was there a good social scene amongst any fellow placement students/colleagues?
With around 45 interns at the Wales site, many living together in shared student housing, there definitely is a good social scene amongst interns. Most interns live in the student area of Cardiff, where it is easy to meet up on evenings and weekends for nights out as well as nights in.
13. What was the cost of living and socialising in the area you worked in?
The most popular area to live in is Cathays/Roath in Cardiff, where there are many options for student accomodation, perfect for interns at GE Aviation Wales. The journey to work from here takes about 25 minutes and most interns car share as a way to keep costs down. Rent was generally between £300-£400 pcm .
14. What was the Nightlife like in the area you worked?
With Cardiff being a major student city and the capital of Wales, there are plenty options for a good night out, whatever you are into. With lots of clubs, pubs, bars and restaurants in the city centre, you are guaranteed a good night out with fellow interns, especially on a rugby match day.
15. Were there many opportunities to get involved in activities outside of work?
GE Aviation Wales has a strong sense of community, and there were many school/community outreach and charity events that you can take part in as interns. These include maths mentoring at a local high school, volunteering to clean up damage to homes after floods and the 3 peaks challenge for charity.
There is also a site rugby and football team who play and compete locally.