I generally did enjoy working at Air Products, when I had work to do. I enjoyed the hands on work I have done as I have learnt many new skills. I also enjoyed learning about how engineering works in the real world which is always more complicated than at university. A lot of what I do is testing new equipment, which can sometimes be quite boring. Other times I had less work to do, which was also quite boring.
I did feel valued by colleagues. When I asked someone a question or for help, they would almost always help me best they could; taking time out of they day to work with me on some occasions. My manager generally thought well of me and another work colleague sometimes over estimated my abilities when he gave me work to do. This meant I had to slightly lower his expectations when I started on the work he gave.
My manger was a very busy person within the company. He was often on the phone or visiting a customer, meaning he wasn't in the office. There were however other people in the office who gave me advice and I was never left with no idea of what to do, though self sufficiency and deciding what to do for on my own was a large part of the job. Some more support at the start of the placement would have been good.
It depend. Some days were well balanced with a good amount of work to do. I never had a real deadline to work towards, which meant there was never time pressure. Other days, I would have a lot less to do, which was quite boring. I might be waiting for a part to be delivered or for a temperature I was measuring to stabilise. This meant they could be quite a bit of waiting around for things to happen, without things to do in the interim.
I was given a reasonable amount of responsibility during my placement. I was expected to perform tests and analyse the data on my own, without supervision from anyone else. Over a hundred pounds of equipment was bought for me to use because I asked for it, which demonstrates the confidence in me. I have spent a lot of time developing an important safety system, thought everything I do is checked by a more senior employee. I have never been in charge of a team or had to give instructions to someone else.
I am very happy with the skills I have gained working at AP. I worked at the Basingstoke office, which has an R&D lab. I therefore gained lots of hands on skills on how to solder, use a drill, adjustable spanner and so forth. I learnt a lot about electronics and C++ programming when I had to use an Arduino for one of my projects. I am better at communicating with people over the phone and with email, be they people within or external to the company. My problem solving skills have also increased.
Everyone got on well. There was a good mixture of jokes, laughs and serious work. They were only around 25 people in the office so everyone knew everyone else. At Christmas there was a collective meal out and bowling. People chat at lunch time and everyone is approachable, so you can ask questions if you need help with your work, even if it has nothing to do with them. There is a good sense of collaboration and team spirit.
It was generally very well organised. The company has been having IP students and graduates for many years and I was part of a cohort of around 20 IPs. There is a person at the company and her only job is to recruit and help (when needed) IPs and grads. As an IP you don't directly work for the company, you work for an umbrella company and you are classed as a contractor, though this has no effect on how people treat you or the work you get. It does mean getting paid and holiday is a bit complicated though.
I feel a lot was invested in me. I was given the oppertunity to do a lot of electronics work even though I am a mechanical engineer. I probably wasn't the best person for the job, but I was allowed to do it anyway. This meant I learnt a lot of new electronics skills. There were also talks given by senior people in the company about their experiences. I learnt more about the company and the world of work through them.
Above 25 days holiday
The company has a graduate scheme. If you do well on an industrial placement, it will count in your favour if you chose to apply for the graduate scheme. I believe if you do very well, a job will be offered to you for when you finish university scheme. The industrial year acts like a long job interview. The graduate scheme is very appealing as you will work in three different parts of the company over three years, which will greatly improve your understanding of it.
There was indeed. There were four others doing industrial placements, and 5 others on the graduate scheme. I lived with two of the other IP students and we got on well. We often went to the pub of a Friday evening. There was a larger collection of IP students working at a different company office an hours train journey away. They often organised social activities like bowling and ping pong after work, though it often wasn't convenient to go.
I lived in Basingstoke. I paid £317 a month on rent. I went shopping at the local Lidl. There were two weatherspoons in the local area and the only club had a £5 entrance fee. A return ticket to London cost around £25 and a return ticket to Birmingham cost around £35. There is a large shopping centre but also a number of charity shops in the area. You can live as cheaply or expensively as you like.
I don't have much of an interest in nightlife personally. There were a number of pubs in the local area, including two weatherspoons. There is one club that I went to once and people who know clubs better than I said it was alright. Basingstoke is not a student area. Reading, which is, isn't too far away. You could be placed in locations other than Basingstoke, such as Worcester, Hull or Hersham. I can't speak for the nightlife in those places.
There were sports teams outside of work, and at lunch time some people would go for a run together, though I never participated in this. In principle there were also opportunities to give science demonstrations in schools using liquid nitrogen, though I was not able to help give one. There was going to be a sports day and camping weekend with other graduates and IPs, though this had to be canceled because of the corona virus.
Placement Year (10 Months+)
5th August 2020