My work placement was fantastic from an enjoyment perspective. I worked specifically in the Lithium Ion Battery manufacturing plant within Nissan and gained a thorough insight into the industry and what it was like to add value back into a company, and being able to see results regularly. I would recommend this to anyone wanting a taster of Process Engineering as a sector, as the insight and responsibility provided were brilliant. From day one I was given responsibility from the get-go, and had to learn by doing.
As a team of Engineers within my specific department, everyone was very welcoming. People would always be available to ask questions and were willing to spend the time sharing their knowledge with me. This was the same for other departments within the plant also with daily communication cross-functionally for problem solving, and gained the respect from people to aid in solving process issues when they arose. I felt like a part of a community in the workplace, especially with people from the North East being very positive and enthusiastic towards work.
From the get go I was assigned a mentor, one of the Process Engineers in the plant, and was positioned under an Engineering Senior also. This meant I had two points of contact if I was ever having any issues and wanted advice on moving projects forward. My mentor worked closely alongside me throughout the duration of my placement, consistently guiding me in the right direction and teaching me the industry ropes. In addition, I had monthly reviews with my Senior and Mentor to discuss my progression and help encourage personal improvement.
I was never not doing anything. Each day would consist of meeting planning, project advancements, line monitoring and fixing. It was all about being flexible and planning the week effectively. I was taught from the start to use a Key Task Management method to plan activities on a weekly basis so that clear progression could be established and it was upto me to plan when those activities would take place during the week. The company is fast paced so it was important to plan for efficient work.
I was given responsibility for my own Process as a Process Engineer from the get go. The first month of my placement consisted of a handover from the previous placement student to understand the process I was taking over. Going forward, I was tasked with daily process issue root cause analysis and resolution and also responsible for ideas, development and implementation of process improvements for my process. In addition I was responsible for leading the Engineering portion of the daily cross-function meeting with the other departments.
From carrying out my placement, I have returned to university with a brand new work ethic. Having exposure to the working environment and having clear plans for your days is key to productivity and preventing procrastination, which is something I would say has helped me develop as a person from carrying out this placement. In addition, I had exposure on placement to use of industry-specific software and the process of Lithium Ion Battery manufacture as a whole which will most definitely help me with the future of cars heading in this direction.
The office environment was great! With your own desk and computer set-up you would easily be able to crack on with work but at the same time spend time chatting to fellow engineers on both a social and work-based level. There would always be someone cracking a joke in the office too which would boost the atmosphere and leave everyone with smiles on their faces. The best thing really was being able to work past people in the open-plan office and everyone saying hello when you walked past.
Sports and Social Club
Above 25 days holiday
With battery power of vehicles being significant going forward, the prospects of growth and job availability in this industry are exponential. The organisation offers graduate positions as a progression from placement following university completion, also, for further knowledge and responsibility perks. These graduate roles are available in a variety of departments also so you have the option to apply for roles that allow you to expand your skillset by working in other departments as well.
Throughout the year various socials were organised within my department itself, including meals out and bike rides. There was never any pressure to go on these events but I always found it a good way to get to know my colleagues more and build a better foundation with them, thus improving my involvement in the community atmosphere. Nissan would also organise gatherings among placement students, pre-COVID19, so whether you were from the North East or it was your first time there, there were plenty of opportunities put in front of you to make friends.
Although I worked in Sunderland, I lived in Newcastle. Prior to starting placement, Nissan organised a Facebook group for all placement students to communicate and I managed to get myself in a house of six fellow placement students. This immediately made it cheaper and I was paying £85 per week for accommodation and would have enough spare money to go out for a meal or night out on a weekly basis. The great thing is that this can all be afforded within your placement salary. I had no need to withdraw any student loan as Nissan paid well.
Living in Newcastle, the nightlife was brilliant. There was plenty of variety of clubs and pubs to go to in the city centre at only a short Uber ride away. With Nissan promoting socialising with other placement students as well, it was good to go on nights out with big groups of other placement students, encouraging getting to know people outside of the workplace. Again, there was no pressure to socialise in big groups, that was just my preference.
From the beginning of the placement, Nissan gave us access to their on-site gym for a small fee of under £5 per month. This was something I took full advantage of by going five days a week and this was yet another opportunity to meet new people, especially seeing familiar faces each day. In addition, my department were big into their cycling, so we were training for a group 140 mile bike ride. Nissan also had their own 5-a-side football with weekly training available.
Placement Year (10 Months+)
28th October 2020