I highly enjoyed my placement year at Air Products! My work was varied and no two days were the same. My team and manager were very personable and easy to get along with making the whole experience that much better. The atmosphere in the office was also very friendly with a large placement and graduate community, with many opportunities to partake in activities at lunch such as football or running clubs as well as after work activities like going rock climbing.
I feel very valued by my colleagues. Towards the end of my placement, this increased as people realised that I would be leaving the company. I developed a skillset that was fairly specialised and so after not long in the company more and more colleagues were reaching out for help with their projects. I was also recognised with awards from various colleagues in the company. There were even many occasions where colleagues expressed surprise when they found out I was a placement student rather than a graduate.
It was very easy to get in touch with my supervisor (considering COVID-19 and working from home) which meant that if I had any questions I could always ask for advice. He supported some of my self-teaching of software tools. My workload was also managed well meaning that I was never overloaded and always knew what to priorities. He also gave lots of advice/mentorship regarding future career decisions drawing on his past experience. We had regular catch up meetings to discuss workload and specific tasks.
My daily schedule varied massively day-to-day however I always had enough work to occupy myself if I did not have a lot of meetings etc. Some days would involve 5+ hours of meetings and others might not include any. On a weekly basis I averaged around 5-10 hours of meetings in a 37.5 hour work week. This left enough time to complete work at my own pace. When work was slow (around xmas time) I had time to work on some self-teaching of software.
During my placement I was the sole person responsible for several regular high level communications and reports. I also led monthly meetings to groups of 20+ participants from all over europe. I was also fortunate enough to work directly with the European Marketing Director meaning that I was responsible for some important tasks which on some occasions were presented at leadership meetings. I led projects and was responsible for setting technical specifications of work carried out by IT.
My role was in the commercial aspect of the business - strategic marketing. I developed a lot of coding and problem solving skills as some of my main responsibilities included analysing huge amounts of data and finding intuitive ways to present this. I am sure that this analytical thinking that was necessary during my placement will be invaluable in the remainder of my studies. I also got to apply some subject-specific knowledge from my degree in my placement as I was involved in a team rolling out a new area of the business in Hydrogen energy.
My role was based in Hersham, GB which is one of the european headquarters. The atmosphere in the office was very lively with hundreds of employees. There is a cafeteria and a cafe to get coffees and snacks. The office consists of pens of between 4 and 6 people depending on the area. This means you sit close to your team and/or supervisor so you can ask any questions you need to or chat easily.
Overall the organisation of the placement was fairly well organised. There would normally be a formal end of year presentation but due to covid this was an online submission. Any other organisation is manager dependant. The only downside being that at Air Products you are employed by a contracting company who outsources payroll and contracts to another company so sometimes it can be hard to find the right person to talk to if you have an issue.
Throughout the year there are plenty of opportunities to attend training sessions, most of which are intended for engineers. There are also opportunities to make site visits to experience different atmospheres while on a plant. As a commercial placement these training or site visits weren't really intended for me however had I asked I would have been able to attend. Additionally I was given the freedom to explore areas of my role that I enjoyed most and self-taught lots of software skills.
Sports and Social Club
Above 25 days holiday
Working from home
Future employment prospects with Air Products are encouraging. They offer a 3 year graduate scheme in which you have 3 year lone rotations in different areas of the business, occasionally being able to relocate to an exciting new country. This would give an insight into the type of role you might like in a future career at Air Products. There are also opportunities for performance bases pay rises. There is also a lot of support given to engineers seeking chartership.
In total there were roughly 12 placement students and a few more graduated in Hersham. This meant there was a large crowd of us all around the same age. Between us there were 2 social secretaries responsible for planning out of work activities such as a games night or drinks/food at a ping pong bar in london. These were all good occasions to get to know your fellow placement students. Lunch times were also a good occasion to hang out with the other placement students.
My role was based in Hersham which is on the outskirts of London. There is loads to do in the surrounding areas and you can easily travel into London for activites. This comes at the cost of having a higher cost of living. A price worth paying to taste the london life. A few of the placement students found it more cost affective to live at home which works well for saving some cash and still enjoying the surrounding areas.
My role was based in Hersham which is on the outskirts of London. There is loads to do in the surrounding areas and you can easily travel into London for activities or nights out. This can be a little expensive. There are also lots of restaurants and pubs closer to the office which we often visited for meals/drinks as a group of placement students. There are also other placements based in Basingstoke which is an hour away. There were occasions during the year when I visited these colleagues for nights out.
There are lots of activities outside of work. Collectively the graduates and the placement students had 2 social secretaries who organised social events outside of with like a games night or drinks at a ping pong bar. These happened once a month. The same group also organises a lunch out once a month called "Thai Day Friday". There are also social clubs at work such as running club which go running at lunch time or rock climbing which is an after work activity.
Placement Year (10 Months+)
Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Market Research, Marketing, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Market Research, Marketing
4th August 2020