I really enjoyed my placement at RWEST; the culture at the company is friendly and the placement focused on my professional development throughout. This is really positive, as it allowed me to develop and practice the key skills which are necessary to be successful in a career. The team I worked in were also very welcoming and open to my ideas, and the social elements of the placement were very positive. This allowed me to integrate into the team and this boosted my experience significantly.
Felt valued. My team were exceptionally trusting, and within a few weeks I was working on real projects and my opinions and perspective were valued by the team. In meetings, the team encouraged me to provide input, which is a fantastic way of quickly settling into a team (particularly important for those at the beginning of their careers who may be unfamiliar with the professional workplace). The vast majority of work I received was genuinely meaningful; this was a key factor in making me feel valued, as at no point did I feel I was only being given 'intern work'.
I received excellent support from my line manager; we would have regular catch-ups which involved discussion about my performance and my personal development . These were often really informative and useful sessions, and I was able to apply this feedback directly into my role. The consistent feedback also allowed me to identify areas for improvement quickly, which I believe accelerated my personal development. More broadly, the company culture was definitely supportive, and the HR team provided multiple development sessions over the course of the year; educational workshops to teach us soft skills and allow us to hear from employees from across the business.
From the very beginning of the placement I had a good amount of work, with the whole team involved in my training. Once I was able to perform some of the regular tasks of the team, I was actively busy most days. I was given some projects by my manager but also given the chance to define my own projects, which meant whenever I reached lulls in my workload I was able to start work on new project ideas.
Definitely one of the best features of the placement at RWEST is the degree of responsibility given to you from a very early stage. I was personally responsible for work which was sent directly to senior managers and the team's stakeholders, and was trusted to give presentations on behalf of the team. This responsibility is really unique to RWEST's placements, and is an excellent opportunity to experience working on projects with stakeholders and to deadlines.
The work I did on placement is not directly relevant to my degree, however the soft skills I was able to practice over the placement year will definitely be valuable going back to university and looking ahead to my career. Being given such responsibility whilst on placement has definitely contributed to me maturing over the 12 months, and the communication and personal management skills I developed on placement will be directly useful when studying at university. The placement was also provided excellent exposure to an interesting industry, and this will help inform my future career decisions.
The office had a good culture, especially within my team, which was very close and friendly. I built good relationships with my colleagues and this contributed to a much more enjoyable placement experience. The nature of the business also meant that news flow could be significant to the work of the team, so there was a good degree of variation in my work. The culture at the company also encourages openness, and most people were very accessible and easy-to-approach with questions.
The work placement had only minor 'set-up', mainly a series of development sessions throughout the placement year. Aside from this, I felt the experience was similar to that of a graduate or full-time starter employee; I was trained on the job and then given increasing responsibility to work on projects and everyday tasks that the team produced. This approach meant that as a placement student you were able to become very competent in your role and develop a good understanding of the team in which you worked, though "formal" exposure to other departments in the form of a rotational programme was more limited.
Training at the company was largely provided on the role, and the entire team contributed to supporting me to a level in which I could contribute. My manager also provided a series of focused training sessions to develop my technical knowledge. These in particular were fantastic and allowed me to understand complex and alien concepts quickly. The company also offered a large suite of personal training sessions which I could sign up to at my own discretion.
Sports and Social Club
Above 25 days holiday
Working from home
Future prospects are good; there are a variety of graduate programmes for various areas of the business and each programme is appealing, with opportunities to travel internationally and work across a range of business units during the two year programme. There is a large cohort of graduates at the company who provided insight into the programme, and they all spoke positively about it. I think RWEST should implement a more defined route from the placement to graduate scheme as the company does not presently offer graduate roles to placement students who perform well over the 12 months.
Amongst the placement students there was a good social network, though this was broadly defined by the students. There was also opportunities to interact with graduates and young professionals at the company and this produced a good social scene at the company. The office has a large canteen and ping-pong tables, so we were able to socialise in a less formal environment during our lunch hours. My team also organised social events outside of work on an occasional basis which was great, though I do not know if this was team-specific or not.
The cost of living in Swindon is relatively low, with rent much cheaper than my University town. Socialising was also relatively cheap with drinks and food inexpensive, though if meeting friends living in different locations expect to travel to them, as Swindon entertainment options are limited (this can increase the costs of travel,etc.). It was possible to commute from the town centre to the office via bike (though this wasn't a short cycle), which could reduce the cost of commuting.
The nightlife in Swindon was poor, and in general there was limited entertainment options within the town. There is only a handful of restaurants and pubs/bars and these are often not brilliant quality. The limited options in Swindon meant that I typically had to travel to meet with friends which was less time and cost efficient. However, there was various events organised by RWEST and my team throughout the year, which allowed for socialising on placement.
Yes, RWEST provided multiple sports clubs for activities outside of work, including a very active football and running club. The area around the business park in which RWEST's office is located has plenty of green space and parks, so getting somewhere for exercise is not too difficult. The company also has an on-site gym, which was complimentary for employees and made it a lot simpler to exercise before/after work or during the lunch break. There was also a free physio on site in case you had any injuries.
Placement Year (10 Months+)
Energy, Market Research
10th September 2020