Although my work placement was cut short due to the pandemic, I still enjoyed 7 months working at TUI. It was a valuable experience that enabled me to understand what goes on behind the scenes of a global organisation. The placement team really try to help and support you along the way by arranging monthly placement meetings and socials which really helps you settle in. I loved being a part of the placement team and loved my job role.
I felt valued in my team as my colleagues would always be sure to thank me for a job well done and acknowledge the effort put in. Either in person or via email, the majority of the time I would receive thanks for helping out with a task. Being asked to help out or being asked my opinion would make me feel valued too as it showed my colleagues trusted me and my work ethic.
There was a good support system in place for placement students as there was a Learning & Development team, as well as your own line manager/senior managers within your department. You are also assigned a buddy at the start of placement so you have an extra person to go to for support that's outside of your team. Everyone in my team was approachable and friendly so I felt I could go to any one of them for help if needed.
From the get go, I was given a fair amount of responsibility and always had something to do. Some days might have been quieter than others but the quiet days allowed me to catch up with other areas of my job role. I was never left to sit and twiddle my thumbs. Beside my day-to-day job role, I was given work to do from my university as well as working on a project with the other placement students. During busy periods like Black Friday and Turn of Year (Boxing day onward), it would sometimes feel a bit manic with last-minute decisions being made.
As mentioned before, I was given a fair amount of responsibility from the get go since I was changing the content on the website for the cruise brand. I was encouraged to challenge the status quo through testing and retesting content and understanding what works best. I was tasked with chairing a monthly meeting which meant it was my job to book a meeting room in advance, send out the invitations, create and share the agenda, gather the powerpoint slides from the attendees etc. I was also responsible for reporting the sales figures for cruise in a weekly meeting, as well as reporting overall sales once a week.
I think it has helped improve my team work skills as I had the opportunity to work in various teams; the placement students, the merchandising team, with cruise stakeholders, with tourist board stakeholders etc. Working across so many different teams helped me build on my communication, interpersonal, presentation, and confidence skills. It was valuable to work with a diverse group of people and learn from their strengths and weaknesses. I think team work is such a transferable skill as it will help me going into my final year with any group projects, and once I graduate I'm sure it will help me in my next job.
The general atmosphere in the office was friendly and open. In such a large office with hundreds of staff in, you might think it would be a bit busy and manic but it was very organised. The office has quite an open design so you don't feel shut off from other areas of the business. Everyone I met was friendly towards me and happy to help if needed. I would say it was also quite a laid back atmosphere in terms of attire, their dress code is to dress for the day. So, everyone tend to dress quite casual.
Overall, I think the placement scheme was well organised in terms of setting our expectations and supporting/guiding us through it. However, the placement scheme is definitely more geared towards the commercial side as it is technically the commercial placement scheme. So, if your role falls outside of commercial it can feel a bit like you're in limbo since your role doesn't really fit in with the rest of the scheme. I liked having the monthly placement meetings where we could all catch up and see what everyone is up to. I found it useful learning about each placement's role in these meetings.
There were lots of ways to improve your skills and personal/professional development. There were regular learning weeks where a multitude of sessions on different subjects were available to attend in the office. I was able to attend a couple and found them really useful. Besides that, I had access to the Sales & Marketing academy and I managed to complete several modules which acted like a refresher for my university course (marketing). There was also the commercial conference where a group of colleagues were sent to Cyprus to review some of the hotels, this was great for me because I wouldn't usually have much exposure to this side of the business in my day-to-day role.
Working from home
I loved my job role whilst on placement and would definitely consider returning in a similar role, if it was available to work from home full-time (just due to the location of the office). I think there are so many different areas of the business that sound appealing to work in and there's opportunities to move vertically and horizontally within the business. I know that TUI also offer a graduate programme so that has potential too.
We would try to organise a placement team social each month and aim to do something different each time to mix it up. We ended up going out for food, bowling, going for drinks etc. Since most of the placements lived near each other, it was pretty easy to arrange a social event outside of work too. We spent the afternoon in Ampthill looking in the shops and having lunch which was nice. Also, within my team we would try to do social events or work lunches. We went to the fish and chip shop multiple times for lunch and also went to Top Golf. So, there's definitely lots of opportunities to meet up outside of work.
It depends on where you go and what you do obviously. St Albans and Harpenden were nice for some food and drinks but were more pricey than going somewhere in Luton. Sometimes we would go to London which can be expensive when you factor in the cost of the tube as well. The cost of living didn't seem particularly high for me though as I rented a 1 bedroom flat in a commuter town called Flitwick. I would drive to work but I could have got the train and it probably would have worked out the same cost-wise. Luton seems cheap to rent but it's not the nicest area to live in so I would advise looking a little further afield.
We went out in Luton a couple of times but preferred to go to St Albans/Harpenden/London. It isn't the best nightlife in Luton and it has a reputation for being a bit dodgy. I would recommend getting the train to St Albans or Harpenden because they have nicer bars and you feel a bit safer there too. There is a university in Luton but when we did a night out in Luton, I don't recall seeing many students so that's probably a red flag.
As I said before, we would try and organise monthly socials outside of work that would usually involve going out for food/drinks, bowling, top golf, shopping etc. Within my team the social activities were probably less frequent because it was harder to organise something where everyone could attend but we did a couple. There is the opportunity to do a charity day in lieu of going to work, where you and a group of colleagues volunteer your time to help within the community. I never got the chance to do this because it was cancelled due to the pandemic but think it's a great idea.
Placement Year (10 Months+)
15th August 2020