Great experience. Had actual responsibilities and was involved in multiple projects. Was not there to give coffee to managers etc. Had the opportunity to travel as well, all expenses paid for. Social aspect was equally good. Tennis games once a week, Monday Night Football every week, Christmas parties, Halloween parties etc. I also had the ability of flexible working. I could work from home once a week if needed, a doctors appointment for example, or go in a bit later and leave a bit later.
Felt like a valuable member of the team. They always asked my opinion and invited me to meetings. I was always involved in serious projects or i was in charge of some projects and was responsible to include and brief others. People always came to me when they needed help reporting etc. In regards to the social aspect i was invited for a drink or food on various occasions. They remembered my birthday and got me gifts. We also attended sporting events as a group of friends.
The culture at toyota is very HR driven. They have multiple processes in place for your mangers, supervisors, general managers and directors to support you and provide you with any assistance. There were weekly catch ups, monthly catch ups, quarterly and annual reviews. People were always there if you needed any guidance or assistance but always gave you your space and time to be able to work on your projects without interfering. Some managers were better than others at that but there were plenty of people to help you if someone didn't have the time.
There were days that i had to have lunch at my desk as i was overloaded with work and days that i could only fill half my day and felt a bit bored. Sometimes i found myself working on multiple projects at the same time and sometimes there was only one or 2 projects to work on. If there was nothing to do I was always encouraged to ask for some work to fill up my time but also if i was overloaded i was encouraged to let people know that i have too much on my plate.
I was in charge of multiple tasks and projects involving large amounts of money. I was also involved and coordinated tasks that were presented to general managers, directors, CEO and associate companies of Toyota. Sometimes i was asked to present myself. I also worked on projects that were heavily used to make business decisions by our specialists and managers. This helped me to mature a lot in a professional manner. I was responsible for my own mistakes but no one ever accused me or made feel bad. I just had to fix my mistakes.
What i have learnt in these 12 months i will never learn in my undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. I was there to observe how the largest car company in the world operates. I also got to learn the toyota culture which i am sure everyone is taught it at uni. Toyota is also big on training seminars. I had email training, excel training, PowerPoint training, A3 paper training, PDCA training, fire and safety training etc.
The atmosphere was perfect. Professional but friendly at the same time. We all had to wear suits but every Friday there was a dress down day that everyone could wear anything they want except for football shirts. People were not snobby or looked down at you. Everyone was friendly and had a good laugh about sports, tv or anything you can imagine. A few times in the year the directors or the CEO came to everyones desk and gave out tea, coffee and cakes for free.
Toyota has a great reputation of having one of the best placements in the UK. The first 2 weeks i had a handover of the job by the previous student. In these 2 weeks i also had multiple seminars to understand how the company works and the Toyota culture in general. Throughout the year we had multiple trainings, we had a factory tour, ride and drive were we tested our vehicle range and many more.
All the training i attended was organised and delivered by external companies who were experts at what they were doing. This was all paid for by Toyota. I was also encouraged to let HR know what other training might find useful and they would arrange it for me for free. Toyota also has a scheme called fund for a batter you which allowed me to spend £150 on whatever i want. For example, squash lessons, dancing lessons, personal training at the gym etc.
There is a great grad scheme that i have already applied for. It is an 18 month period in various departments around the business. The pay is great and the opportunity to progress in the company is also very good. There are multiple people who work in key positions that went through the student placements and the grad scheme. There are also great opportunities to work for Toyota in other countries or the HQ in Brussels.
There are 21 students in my cohort. We had a great time together. We went on too many nights out, we went to the cinema every Wednesday and played football on Mondays and weekends. We also went on a holiday together to Hungary and had planned another one but covid ruined our plans. I made great friends with the other students and with older people in my team. This made my placement year ten times better.
The office in Epsom is fairly close to London. Only a 20 minute train ride away. The clubs in Epsom are not the best but it very easy and close to get to Clapham which has a great night out or even central London if you want more choices. Epsom rents range from 500-700 per calendar month. I commuted from guildford everyday which is approximately the same rent. The commute is 1 hr drive if there is traffic or 30 min with no traffic.
the nightclubs are average at best. there are a few nice pubs to have a drink though. Central London is close, only 20 minutes away by train. Clapham is also very close which has a great night out. Brixton is another option or guildford for student nights out. If you have a car or you are willing to take a train ride the areas around the office are great nights out at a decent cost without having to pay central london prices.
If you like sports or theatre you could fill up all of your free time quite easily. Monday nigh football, Tennis on a Tuesday, Cricket on Friday evenings. All of this subsidised by Toyota. Sports and social send out emails quite often with offers for cinema or theatre tickets at a very low price, 70-80 % discount. Social work parties for Halloween, Christmas, Easter and a firework show with free food on the 5th of November.