Overall my placement was an an enjoyable and worthwhile experience. Unfortunately it was disrupted and this was out of anyone's control due to covid, which did result losing a few months off out of my 13 month placement experience. But for the time that I did spend there, I can honestly summarise how I found my placement to be a highly beneficial experience which has allowed me to develop professional skills and understand common industrial practices. I'd highly recommend industrial placement years to undergraduate students.
I felt valued by the colleagues in my team and those I worked with across other departments. Many of the skills I acquired was moulded by the advice and support I took from colleagues and I highly valued their experience and opinions to help me to make decisions in my placement. The advice I attained from those within my department made it easier to describe and conduct work with those outside of my department, mainly the production teams.
The support I received was good. My tutor programme was disrupted due to the changes that occurred in the current & new model teams, but I still managed to get good guidance from those in my department and they helped me learn and work throughout my placement. My supervisor was supportive all the way through. He'd occasionally set tasks for me, he'd acknowledge my daily activities and he conducted bi-yearly appraisals in which he would review my placement progress and, at the end of my placement, we reviewed my whole placement. I appreciated the positive feedback I received.
Most days were fairly busy. There was always an abundance of activities to look into, which would fall under the scope of larger tasks, such as robot cycle time reduction, optimising parts of the production line, discussing issues with production and engineering. Some days didn't feel too busy in the sense that the demand for resolving issues was low at times, but it was easy to get support from my department for extra work. I'd say the balance was very good because of this.
I would say that my levels of responsibilities were greater in the second half than the first. In the first half I was getting used to processes and Nissan's ways of operations, mainly in Line 2, and I was assisting colleagues with work whenever necessary. In the second half, I undertook the responsibility as Line 1 Metal Line & Hemming Current Model Planning Engineer. The exposure to zone responsibility was very useful and helped me develop my professional skills and working relationships with members in the zone.
I received sufficient training at the start of my placement and I was learning the grips of Nissan's way of doing things more and more by the day. The most important aspect of my placement experience for me was the skills & experiences I've developed. Many skills I've attained are transferable to my degree which mainly includes my improved engineering written & oral communication skills and also gaining a sense of industrial practices and manufacturing methods which are relevant for industrial engineering. My placement has also helped me to evaluate the differences between industrial engineering and the academic engineering I am learning in my degree. This has given me a better understanding of what my expectations will be when I become a graduate engineer.
I was exposed to a very productive atmosphere. In the first half of my placement, I was based in a small office on the production floor with only the members of my team. The benefit of this was that it was easy to contact production at any point face to face to discuss issues and it was much more convenient to begin my placement here to observe the production line. In the second half, I was based in the main upstairs engineering office and this exposed me to more engineering contacts.
It was pretty well organised I would say. The placement & graduate HR team provided sufficient support at the start of the placement to give a bit of an introduction to Nissan by showing us all around the plant, providing some statistics on the automotive industry and also by showing us the local Nissan dealership at the start of the placement to help us appreciate 'what happens after the car is made'. The team was responsive throughout the placement in answering queries.
When I started my placement, my department did indeed invest resource into training me. I was equipped with PPE and health & safety instructions in order to observe the production line. Members of my department spent a part of their time introducing me to my workzone and to Nissan's operations. In time, Nissan was able to benefit from my work after the initial training process, as I was partaking in work which was deemed as essential to managers and directors and was able to explore ways of optimising the operations.
Above 25 days holiday
I appreciate that the HR team will notify me of graduate opportunities at Nissan for FY21. For me personally, I think I am going to keep my eyes open to opportunities which are not limited just to Nissan. I am thinking of undertaking a masters in my degree which would put my graduation in 2022. From now until then I will have more thinking and planning to do for future employment prospects. For now, I think that if I were to return to Nissan, I would like to be more involved with design aspects of work, rather than day to day issues with current model.
The social scene I had at Nissan was ok. In addition to working with my colleagues, it was easy to 'crack on' with some of my colleagues. This would actually help my working relationships with them as well. Obviously, covid has limited social opportunities for 2020, thus the social scene in 2020 was poor. But in 2019, I had a night out with the body planning engineering team and I engaged in a couple of activites with the placement students. So there was a little social scene going on behind the works.
In my placement year, I lived back home in Gateshead which reduced my cost of living and it made it easier to commute to my workplace Nissan in Sunderland. In terms of socialising, it was different for me this year due to personal reasons but also I'd say it was different in the sense that socialising was more difficult because I wasn't living in the city centre among my friends from university and I was generally more unavailable.
When I was at university at Newcastle for my first couple of years, I did have an appreciation for night life, freshers week, pubs etc. In my placement year, this sense of appreciation wasn't too important for me to be honest. The majority of the time throughout my placement was like this; I'd go to work full time Monday to Friday, then on the weekends I may decide to chill at home, or socialise with friends, or go hiking. That was enough for me.
Yes, there are many opportunities for people to do activities outside of work in the North East. Perhaps I wasn't too great in taking them. My line of work was in the North East of England and that's where I'm from, so I was aware of the opportunities and sightseeing I could get involved in. Sometimes I'd go sightseeing on weekends, or I'd go hiking in the lake district, or sometimes I'd have the weekend free to chill at home. Of course, covid has limited opportunites for everyone so mainly it would consist of chilling at home, if not working.
Placement Year (10 Months+)
13th November 2020