I have enjoyed my internship at Mentor very much. It has been a valuable experience to work in an engineering company, learning how the skills that I have gained through my degree may be applied in the workplace. I have gained insights into the software industry and development process and increased my awareness of a career path I had not considered before. The working environment at Mentor was open and welcoming, and the staff friendly.
I felt like a valued team member at Mentor. My colleagues were accomodating and, after the initial training period, I was regularly consulted for my knowledge of the software and could demonstrate my understanding of engineering principles during testing. We were involved in the higher-level meetings and had opportunities to add our input to discussions and influence development directions. I believe my feedback was valued, and I was very much treated as a peer.
I was given ample support and guidance during my internship. During the first month of our placement, we received in-depth training from the out-going interns. I had monthly meetings with my manager, where I was able to seek advice and provide and receive feedback. My manager went out of their way to hold these meetings weekly during our remote-working period. I felt at ease approaching colleagues and management with any queries. Siemens also provides mentoring opportunities, pairing me with a senior colleague to talk over tips for work or careers advice.
The intensity of structured work varies naturally with the development cycle. As the team approaches a new release for the software, the workload will increase correspondingly. There will be periods where QA resources will be waiting for development on new features to be completed before they can be tested and vice versa. There is always plenty of other work that the interns can assume, and this is a good opportunity to demonstrate initiative and time management skills. Quieter periods can also be used to undertake any personal projects/dissertations that may need to be completed for universities' year-in-industry requirements.
I think I was given a reasonable amount of responsibility during my internship. I was entrusted to thoroughly test new features, was heavily involved with final pre-release testing and investigating changes to software behaviour after major updates. As the internship progressed, I was increasingly autonomous in managing these aspects and was expected to take initiative is finding and mitigating errors. We represented the company at careers fairs and took part in the hiring process for the next interns. We also had a lot of input to the hand-over and training process for the new interns.
I think my internship has been very useful for developing my skills and confidence. I have gained intimate knowledge of the design simulation software packages that I worked on, and a good understanding of the software development process. The ability to experience an office work environment, refine my time management skills and work collaboratively in a team towards a common goal has been invaluable. I now have insight into how professional projects are set out and managed. Being involved in the intern hiring process has helped me better understand what companies may seek in a candidate and how to present myself. We were provided with extra training, such as DiSC training to improve our inter-office communications ability.
The office is friendly and welcoming, and the dress code was informal. The office has an open-plan layout and no desk dividers, while it is still a professional environment it was common to have chats with colleagues. It was easy to go up to and seek advice from others, and if they were preoccupied they would get back to me quickly. This made the feedback process simple when working with developers. There was also a communal kitchen area where it was possible to take breaks, have lunch and talk about the day.
The interns are an important and well-integrated part of the Mentor team and its software development process. The initial handover period is well managed and ensures the new interns have a good understanding of the expected work. Work is organised using the "Agile" methodology, so work is assigned and expected to be completed over a two-four week period, depending on the team. Any meetings/presentations or dissertations that need to be completed for university year-in-industry requirements are expected to be organised by the intern.
Mentor invested in training to ensure that we were able to perform our intern roles with competency. Plenty of this, especially interpersonal, organisational skills and development and workflow knowledge will be easily transferrable. The DiSC training, mentoring and various corporate training will also build the intern's abilities. The intern will gain detailed knowledge of the software line they work on. After we had settled into the role, the amount of structured training decreased but we were able to utilise the companies vast resources if we took initiative.
I think Mentor is a good employer and would be happy to work there again in future. There are good prospects for future employment with the company, and I believe that graduate roles are advantageous. Several former interns have returned to permanent roles with the company, and seem to have been able to progress and fulfill their ambitions.
There will be at least one other intern at the various office locations and it is reassuring to have this shared experience with a peer. It is common that the interns seek accommodation together which is a good way to build social ties. There were several office meals and parties throughout the year, and plenty of ice-breaking events at the beginning to ease us into our new roles. Beyond this, people tended to keep to themselves outside of office hours.
The Nottingham office is situated to the north-west, away from the city centre. If the interns choose to live near the office, in a more rural setting, the living costs will be low. I lived nearer the city centre, the city's strong public transport links made the commute to the office manageable. I found the costs of living to still be affordable and, being a student city, there is ample ability to socialise at lower prices. Nottingham is a well-connected city, which made visiting other parts of the country easy without owning a car. Mentor provides a wellness pot, which can be spent on sporting activities and hobbies, making them more affordable.
The area around the office location has a few pubs, but the main nightlife focus will be in the city centre of Nottingham itself. There are plenty of cinemas, restaurants, pubs, bars and clubs. Nottingham also has a healthy and diverse live music scene. Having a big student population, there will be many student nights and opportunities to meet new people.
There were only a few things organised through work by colleagues, such as charity events, and these occur inconsistently. In terms of what you can do in your own time, outside of work, then there a wide variety of activities to choose from.