I was able to gain experience in mechanical engineering and leadership through a variety of different projects. I also learnt basic aspects of hardware which were relevant to the projects I was involved with. If there was an aspect of the role that I wanted to do more of or a skill I wanted to improve the management team were helpful in modifying my role to encompass this as best as they could. I was given good feedback through the placement too.
The majority of the teams I worked with treated me as another normal colleague and valued my input as much as they would anyone else. Some of the men who had been in the department a long time took a while to come to accept my opinion on projects but as they got to know me they would then ask my opinion and involve me more in projects. As a whole, interns were very valued on my site.
I was given excellent support by my manager and my team. One of the engineers was my mentor and I could ask him questions whenever I needed help. We would also have regular meetings to discuss my progress and anything I was struggling with in the work. At the start of a new project I would have a meeting with him or my manager to discuss my plan for the project so that I felt comfortable with what to do.
At the beginning of the placement (first 2 months) I had very little to do but as I become more trusted by the team and as new work came into the department I was given more work to do. The team were very careful not to overload me with work so I very rarely felt I had too much. The majority of time after the first couple of months I would say I had the perfect balance.
I was given one project to design a product by myself but I had regular meetings with my mentor to discuss progress. This gave me the responsibility to do the project by myself with a safety net incase I was too off pist. I was also trusted to design parts for other projects and these were checked under the normal procedure that other engineers would follow. I was given responsibility but there was checking in place to prevent major issues occurring.
The leadership skills I learnt have been useful in my 3rd year university studies alongside my future work. The design skills I learnt will be incredibly valuable going forward in my career no matter what the product range, although may not be so relevant to a more industrial company such as an energy company (the design here was more product design based). My time management and organisation skills also improved greatly during my placement year.
The atmosphere was good most of the year and events such as Christmas and Easter were celebrated. There were times however when the atmosphere was very tense, such as when a highly ranked manager was visiting the site or a project was struggling in a certification stage. At this point methods for reducing colleague stress or reducing pressure from higher ranked people would have greatly helped office atmosphere. In general though the atmosphere was very happy and welcoming.
The placement was incredibly well organised. A calendar of intern training events was given on the first day, on which an induction event was hosted for all the UK interns to meet. There was then multiple training session throughout the year involving team building, presentation skills, leadership, and many more important skills. There was also an intern project throughout the year which encouraged interns from different sites to work together to research how the company can improve in some aspect and present a way forward.
There was a number of compulsory training activities which all employees had to complete such as quality, health and safety etc. There was also the intern training events to improve presentation skills, communication, teamwork and leadership. I could also complete any further online training that I desired on Eaton's learning portal. If further courses were required for the work I was completing these were made available to me. We were also encouraged to complete other courses such as excel courses if we desired.
A future job with the company is very appealing. There are many vouchers which can be used from the company. Prospect of promotion also seems high and they very much value experience of people within the company. There is a very good graduate leadership programme in which you can rotate through a number of Eaton sites and learn about its different product divisions. There is good progress reviewing in place throughout the business, not just with interns and graduates.
The social scene was very good. There were 5 interns at my site and we had regular trips out for evening meals or drinks. There was also numerous nights out which the majority of the office could attend if they wished to. This was a great way to get to know other people outside of the working day, which then made it easier to find someone to go on a trip out to get lunch with etc.
In Newport itself the cost of rent was fairly average. About £400 per month on average. Some areas weren't as nice but that correlated with reduced rental costs. The majority of socialising happened in Cardiff which was cheap to get the train to and was not overly expensive to buy food or drink. Food shops were also reasonably priced and there was a good range of shops to choose from. Fuel prices were also very cheap in the area.
In the area itself the nightlife was poor. We did not go out into the actual town at all. I worked very close to both Cardiff and Newport however so the nightlife in these places was very good in comparison. For the cost of travel to these places it was definitely worth travelling rather than going out in the town we worked in (Cwmbran). It did have a lot of places to eat though which was good.
There was after work badminton sessions at the local leisure centre for those who wanted to attend. People also often went to the pub on a Friday after work which finished at 2 for a lot of people. There was also a Christmas dinner and a charity quiz night which were great ways to meet other people from the office. I also attended an aerobics session after work with a number of colleagues. There was always the option to do activities outside of work if people wanted to.
Placement Year (10 Months+)
18th November 2020