I've had a great year meeting various new people and made friends along the way which has made my placement a very enjoyable experience. Lubrizol have a fairly laid back approach to working which enabled me to settle in quickly and make the most out of the year. There was also the added advantage of feeling like I was still a uni student, with site being close to the city centre (rare for chemical companies), whilst working full time and earning a good salary.
I feel highly valued by work colleagues and have received multiple focused recognition cards throughout the year (part of the company culture). We have regular meetings where we present recent findings to a small audience of employees who provide encouraging and constructive feedback to aid improvement for next time. I feel particularly valued by my supervisor who has praised my work and as a result, left me with a brilliant mark for my 3rd year at uni.
My supervisor organised regular 'catch up' and 'review' meetings to discuss the progress of projects and provide guidance on where to go next with each project. They were also always up for a chat, business related or not, to ensure I was well settled and knew what I was doing. However, I do like the fact that I didn't feel constantly watched over and had the freedom to get on with my work at my own pace.
Most days I had to write a plan of attack for the day ahead to make sure I got everything I needed to done, however there was rarely any pressure to ensure all work was complete. The harder you work, the more work you get but it's good to keep busy and gain as much experience as possible. Some days there were tedious admin tasks to complete but if the day was planned well I could spread it out in little bits rather than one long, fairly boring day.
There is plenty of responsibility to work safely, organise and plan your work efficiently and come up with new solutions however there is always a supervisor/manager responsible for ensuring all work is carried out correctly. An accountable culture is adhered to at Lubrizol though this doesn't mean you are blamed for a mistake and there are plenty of people on hand to assist you. You could take on as much responsibility as you are willing to provide but there is no pressure involved.
The skills learned on placement will set me in great stead for 4th year Masters year at uni and I have undoubtedly boosted my practical skills as well as presenting, confidence and computer skills. Working in industry applies degree studies to a real world setting and gives you insight into the sort of jobs you'd like to progress to in the future. My university tutor even admitted that those with industrial experience excel beyond those who don't in their masters. I would recommend a placement year to anyone who has the opportunity!
In the first half of the year, the office atmosphere was great and people were open to conversation all the time. However COVID has certainly changed the atmosphere since people are more segregated, screens are everywhere and people are generally more wary of everything (understandably!). Everyone in research is very chilled though and you can definitely be yourself without the worry of being judged or anything. I'll miss the atmosphere.. It's sad that there's no leaving party this year!
The interview process, familiarisation day and first week were well structured. As the first student in a new role, I acted as a bit of a guinea pig but I've helped to improve the structure for the new student. I quite liked the flexibility through the year rather than there being strict do's and don'ts or time pressures. You must be well organized yourself in order to succeed but generally I thought the structrue was good.
Most the projects I worked on were high priority which certainly made me feel valued and worthy in the company. Also, the students were always invited to training days and online training even though we weren't going to be here for the forseeable. I particularly feel I was well invested as I was provided access to company software that not all students have access to and had the experience of visiting plant numerous times, experiencing how process technology and development is scaled up to complex engineering on plant. I got to meet the engineers and gain a different perspective to the science done on placementt.
Sports and Social Club
Above 25 days holiday
Unfortunately at Lubrizol Blackley there appears to be no hiring going on and it is unlikely that they are going to open up any opportunities for graduates. I’d hope to think they’d get in touch if a role came up that I would suit as I’ve loved working at Lubrizol. There doesn't seem to be any employment cuts however if someone leaves, they don't seem to be replaced. The post-COVID employment environment might be different though.
There have been plenty of nights out/meals out in the city centre after work such as Bongos Bingo/ Junkyard golf or pizza at Crazy Pedros. There have also been some great nights for peoples retirement parties or the Christmas do. The students often have a WhatsApp group and we often meet up just the 6 of us in addition to group events. Everyone tends to get on and the year has been great fun for sure.
Since I am at the Uni of Manchester, I lived in a student house in Fallowfield/ South Manchester (the student area of Manchester) and commuted each day. I paid around £450 per month in rent (pretty expensive) but I know that student housing can be expensive. Cost of living is fairly cheap (if you shop at Aldi) and nights out aren't too expensive (nothing on London!!) but depends on the area you're going out to.
Fab. I really enjoyed seeing a different part of Manchester whilst working compared to the student scene. With work we tended to go to more upmarket places (though the occasional wetherspoons didn't go a miss) which was great. There is always loads going on in Manchester from concerts and sports events to clubbing and meals out so you'll rarely be bored. When it comes to bars and restaurants, there is so much to choose from.
Yes, there were plenty of opportunities to get out and students were encouraged to organize nights out through the 'Team Building' site on Teams. This would include things like booking a restaurant or bongos bingo. We had planned to do a charity Tough Mudder but COVID stopped that. Regarding charity events though, it seems as though Hazelwood have more schemes set up already which maybe Blackley should get on board with such as the STEM school programme.
Placement Year (10 Months+)
21st July 2020