Overall, my year with Gist in Enfield was an incredible experience. there were tough times and it certainly wasn't all plain sailing. However, once i was settled in with the team there, it was a really enjoyable and rewarding experience. I found the first 3 months tough; with some personal struggles making it harder to settle into a completely new way of living when compared with university. As stated above though, once settled i thoroughly looked forward to going to work as i felt i could really make a difference at the depot i was based at.
Again, this is something that i feel came more with time. for the first few months i was still learning the ropes and so was relied on less by team members and added less value perhaps than the last part of my placement. in the last 9 months i felt i was very valued in the workplace. My ideas were always listened to and tested out which made me feel like a valid member of the team.
The whole team at my depot provided so much support when i needed it. i think the hardest thing i found was learning to move from a student perspective where support and guidance is thrusted at us, to a professional environment where we need to ask for help and support if we are struggling. this is something i quickly learned though, and once i had grasped this idea the support and help available from every level was incredible.
Every day presented a new challenge for me. managing a team of people, there is always something that needs doing, and this is usually on top of what we are expected to manage in terms of operational process. It would be easy to become overwhelmed if you didn't manage your time successfully. but the team at site are there to support you and help/teach where they can. I enjoyed the workload as i felt i was adding value by completing tasks that were outstanding, and you can always delegate tasks out or help out team members by taking more on.
There aren't many other placement opportunities that offer the same level f responsibility that Gist does. from day one you are managing people who have been working there for much longer than yourself. despite this being a challenge, it's such a rewarding opportunity when you begin to get things right and earn the respect and trust of your team members. As well as the people management side of this placement, the operational process also comes with a lot of responsibility. you are often in charge of ensuring product is picked out to target and gets out on time so it can arrive at store.
I developed so many useful skills over my year with Gist. Mainly i would say honing my interpersonal and communication skills was my biggest success; learning to manage a team is such a big learning curve that can seem daunting. however, once again the support available made this a very manageable goal to achieve, and looking back to the differences in myself before and after this placement i can honestly say it has provided me with great foundations to go forward into any career field.
I found Enfield to be a really positive environment to work in. Most employees there seemed to have a real drive to make positive change which was a refreshing atmosphere. obviously there were some less positive characters as to be expected but this really doesn't lessen the mood on site. As with any job that has time and quantity pressures, there can be stressful days that seem less than positive. however these are few and far between and lessons are always taken from these days to help improve processes for future.
The early talent team at head office were so supportive and on it in terms of making all us placement students feel welcome and ready to start work. However, i feel there was a bit of a break in communications between these guys and individual sites. its very hard to convey exactly what it is like to work in a working depot and i think it can come across as a bit of a shock to the system after all the insight days, meeting the board in your suits etc... to being in a fridge in cargo trousers and steel boots. This said, my on site management team was really great at making me feel comfortable and preparing me for what working there was really like and i still see it as positive.
A lot of training and opportunities are available for staff at Gist. you do need to drive for them yourself as they are usually competitive. I secured a spot on a nationally recognised IOSH course swell as other internal training which was so great. As is expected though, with operational pressures and especially the Covid-19 outbreak, courses were often postponed or cancelled which is sometimes disappointing. This is something out of anyones control though and so i would still say training opportunities are great.
I would jump at the opportunity to work with any of the team from Enfield or those i dealt with at head office again. as a company, Gist offers such a good chance to get involved in a supply chain operation at a high level from very early on which is amazing. i would certainly be interested in coming back to work for Gist again after university and would recommend anyone else thinking about it to take the chance.
Often you are the only student on your site, or there may be a graduate also. This can make socialising a challenge and i would recommend trying to live with people you know or people who are of similar age. I was lucky enough to live with a couple of friends for most of my time at work which made socialising a lot easier. i could see that it would be hard for those not lucky enough to have friends in the area as your team mates and peers are often older.
Compared with Newcastle where i go to uni (one of the cheapest cities to live in), London was horrifically expensive. rent especially was a shock. However this is reflected in your wages which are really great for a placement. I was based in Enfield and lived near Finsbury park so prices were as you'd expect living within the M25. i know other northern depots don't have the same high cost of living but places like Hemel and Thatcham probably do.
I never really ventured out into Enfield itself bar a couple of occasions. Nightlife around where i lived was good but you have a lot less time for nights out when you're working full time so it becomes less of a priority. there are a lot of good pubs though which was great.
Yes, as with any city there are always opportunities to get involved in clubs and activities. This is all self driven though and you of course have to go out looking for things. I was unfortunate that everything i joined was closed in March when lockdown began. I assume this won't be an issue going forward and so would not be concerned with a lack of things to do. depending on who you are working with as well might mean you have colleagues who can get you involved in things.