I really enjoyed working at my placement company. The role enabled me to develop a large range of skills and meet/communicate with a variety of people across the business. I took pride in the work that I underwent in both the routine testing and project. I particularly enjoyed being part of a large project group but still had a large amount of freedom in the work I carried out. I also enjoyed the fact there was a large student community at Lubrizol therefore I developed good friendships with students in different roles, this enabled a positive experience both in and out of work.
At Lubrizol everyone is very friendly and welcome and will take time out of their day to talk to you about both yours and their work. This made me feel extremely valued to the company as you feel like a full-time member of staff. Lubrizol rely a lot on students and heavily appreciates their contributions. This is made clear in yearly events which showcase each students work. The culture which is taught very much pushes a positive attitude to working and helps you develop your workplace skills.
I had multiple supervisors and project managers which supported and gave feedback on my work and development. This enabled me to have clear goals on how I want to develop my workplace skills. Extra support on my project was given after feedback from previous students allowing me to have more support when required. This enabled me to produce a well written high level report for my masters degree. The supervisors were very approachable when needed but did not over push in the support, giving a good balance of personal development.
There was a near to perfect balance of workload per day. At first it was a challenge as unlike many students I had a project separate to my department in which I had to balance routine testing and project work. There were times of higher pressure were the department was busy however this was easily solved by working with the team. There was always a job you could be getting on with even in quieter times there was side project that could be progressed.
Lots of responsibility is given to placement students at Lubrizol as you are treated as full time employees with chances to lead the research in my part of the project and producing a full report at the end of the year. I took on the responsibility of many routine tests including sometimes being the main operator. There is also a lot of responsibility given in terms of safety where you are often dealing with hazardous substances and having to wear the correct PPE.
I developed no end of skills during the year. This included communication. This included communicating with people face to face, email, phone and TEAMS meetings. I believe this will be a key skill to have in the future. There were lots of chances to develop presenting skills. I had to produce a large presentation to different people at least once a month as well as taking part in a poster symposium in which I presented to over 80 people.
I worked in a vibrant office in which everyone was chatty and I could get on with. Throughout the year many similar interests where formed making conversation easier as well as being able to hear about project that other people are involved with as anyone is happy to talk to you about. There was a good balance between hard working and chatty periods. After returning from lockdown it was a nice breather to see different people and be able to chat to them.
The overall work placement was pretty organised as students are very important to the workflow therefore are needed and valued. Some initial training was slow but feedback was taken in from my experiences and improved for future students. This meant my replacement had a large handover period in which I could teach as much about the role to them as possible. The work I was expected to do was clear from the start as well as having opportunities to further my interests and take on extra responsibility.
I had regular 1 to 1 meetings with my supervisor on what I could work on to improve my skills and get the best out of my placement. I also had a large push to improve my presentation skills. I had to present to a group of people at least once a month who would give me critical feedback which was highly useful and allowed me to get a high grade in my university report and presentation.
Sports and Social Club
Working from home
A large amount of employees at Hazelwood are former placement students, this is mainly due to the welcoming and friendly atmosphere and the value they have for their students. I have not currently got a job at the company as I have chosen further study but would consider returning if the right role appeared that suited my expertise. They seem welcoming to future employment prospects if you put in the work and show commitment to your role!
There was just under 30 other placements students at Lubrizol's site in Hazelwood in which I lived in a house of 7. This meant social get togethers were very common which made the placement year very enjoyable. The site is located just outside many excellent walking spots as well as being close enough in the city that lots is going on their too. A quiet weekend with little to do was very rare, making it a very exciting year!
Derby is very cheap to live in, even in the city center. Drinks are pretty cheap and most activities are too. However this comes at a price as it is not the nicest city. Belper, which is the closest town to work is much nicer but this comes at a cost to housing/ socialising etc. There are lost of 'free' walks to go around the peak district where you just need to drive and pay for parking.
There was a few restaurants, pubs, bars and nightclubs in Derby very close to where I lived with a good variety but not a large range. For a big night out you needed to go to Nottingham which you can get to by bus or train at all hours of the day. Nottingham has a large night life with anything you need walking distance away. There are also a few pubs in the town close to work which also had a decent nightlife, this was often used for work meals/nights out.
Lubrizol have a sport and social club which organised lots of activities throughout the year and discounts on events. This included Munro Bagging (which was unfortunate cancelled this year due to COVID) which is a weekend walking in Scotland. I also got involved in an escape room trip and quiz night as well as other things being planned for the year (and then cancelled). There was also many things organised as a student group including nights out, climbing, walks in the peak district and loads more.
Placement Year (10 Months+)
28th July 2020