The Placement at Toyota UK has probably been my favourite year of "University" so far. The work in the field I love and in a brand I adore is all I could have asked for. What is great about this company is that from day one you will be tasked with exercises that have a real impact on the business, I enjoyed the independence I had as it was a healthy balance of undertaking my own initiatives and projects and working as a part of a team. Through the year I made great friends, learnt lots about the automotive industry and operations sector and gained valuable insight into real-life work situations. It has been a great year and enjoyed it thoroughly.
The company culture at TGB is very good. You will receive praise and recognition when deserved, and no actions go unnoticed - even small improvements are valued by teammates. I felt valued by my colleagues and the best proof of this was the amount of responsibilities I received and projects I could carry out. Being given lead on a year-long new audit programme did make me feel valued and proved my team trusts me. Another aspect I truly value is what happened when things went wrong, previously I have found the UK to be a very "polite" culture, when even when you truly fail at something all you will hear is "you have done a great job" and more of the non-offensive bubling... Personally I do not think that approach as positive or useful, and this is why I thought my manager handled these perfectly. I made mistakes - everyone does, but always we would have a chat about what went wrong, and how to improve in the future, it was all transparent and through the year I knew what the expectations were and where I had potential for improvement.
In my role I had 2 managers, an independent mentor and a specialist colleague who knew everyone and everything. Having the support of all of these people really helped me through the year both work wise and outside of work wise. The feedback mentioned in the previous point proves how great they were at work, but I would really like to focus on the COVID-19 pandemic and how both my managers were ready to give me a helping hand if I needed one outside of work. The organisation itself acted great as well, with major sanitary considerations, early office closure (compared to UK lockdown) and putting the wellbeing and safety of staff first. Truly commendable.
On a daily basis I was as busy as one would assume in an organisation of this size. I had a healthy balance of daily tasks, like reporting, monitoring and communicating, and time for my own initiative and bigger project work. I would say that the first 2 months were kind-off slow and I did feel slightly bored at times, but as soon as I raised this with my manager I received much more work and responsibility. What is great as well is that through the day I did have time to take coffee and lunch breaks without impacting my work, this is pretty much organisation wide and really shows the balance is good.
I think the responsibility did increase accordingly to my skills and the placement progression. I started with daily tasks and reports to create, and after grasping the systems, processes and communication methods I ended with much bigger tasks. By the end of my placement I have helped to conduct a service pricing revision with updated prices. I made a Lead Audit Management structure which will continue after I leave the company and have managed to create new and update a number of old reports.
I do feel like the skills I have gained and experience will be invaluable in my job search in the future.
The office has a great atmosphere and the great facilities surely improve that - the canteen for lunch and coffee breaks, the general surrounding and greenery which allow for walks during lunchtime and the gym which is great to put in some exercise after a long day! The Sports&Social club was a great place to make friends from different division in the business, as once a week we would play football after work, there were other option like cricket or tennis - everyone would find something for themselves. Apart from sport the club also did some events which further facilitated networking with different departments.
I did have a slightly underwhelming handover and through the first weeks I did not have enough tasks to do or knowledge to really veer off the beaten track, but as mentioned earlier this did improve after having a discussion with my managers. Otherwise I feel the planning was really good, through the first months we received training and HR support and all reviews were scheduled in a way which gave us time to focus on them and then have enough time to prepare the handover for the next student. The year passed like a breeze and I can swear I have just started, yet I have a few weeks left.
The company had a great way of doing training, we started with top level sessions to move into more role-specific ones and learn in detail about the brand. All training is readily available and if enough candidates express interest, HR will arrange a session to happen.
Sports and Social Club
Staff Sales/Staff Shop
Above 25 days holiday
Working from home
Very appealing, as it is an amazing company, however some companies will offer you a graduate scheme straight from a placement year. At Toyota it is slightly more complicated, as from the whole placement cohort, only a few people will receive an invite - to an assessment centre where they will compete against each-other and external candidates. I guess this is fair considering the relatively small size of an organisation, but if you are looking for a pass straight from placement to a graduate job, this is not it.
Through the year I have made great friends, and with over 20 students on a placement it is easy to find a group you fit in with. The sports and social facilitates more interaction with permanent employees, and the team meetings we had at Lexus gave me a chance to meet with the field team I worked with and dealership staff I sometimes talked to.
The office is in Surrey, so as you can imagine it is very expensive. If you are looking for a room, you can get the cheapest reasonable ones from around £550, my friends who were renting a house were in the £600-£700 range per/M (with bills) in a nice place. I personally had a hideous, desolated room for £510 per/M with bills and WiFi included. It was one of the cheaper options and you could feel it - weird housemates and a house that was falling apart. On the positive side it had a driveway for my scheme car. Socialising is extremely expensive in London, so we usually stayed indoors and had house-parties or a beer in a pub.
Not much, for anything decent you need to go into central London. There are easily accessible trains to Victoria and London Bridge, so it is doable if someone wants to go out.
Yes, all of the social clubs, sports, gym, etc. The football team had a subsidised trip to Cologne in Germany for an Annual EU Toyota championship. Toyota provides 2 days of volunteer leave each year, and they also suggest initiatives you can take part in.
Placement Year (10 Months+)
1st July 2020