I thoroughly enjoyed my placement year at NATS; I gained a huge amount of experience, was able to see the applications of my degree to real life examples and develop my interpersonal skills. The projects I worked on during the year were highly interesting and allowed me to gain an insight into an industry I was previously unfamiliar with. I would highly recommend the company to anyone looking to do a work placement or internship.
The department I worked in was incredibly welcoming, and I genuinely felt they were keen to help me develop my skills and knowledge. Despite knowing they go through the same process every year with new placement students, I never felt as though they were tired of explaining the same thing; they were always more than happy to talk me through a task I was unfamiliar with or explain a particular area of expertise. I was made to feel like a true member of the team.
The support and guidance provided by my supervisors throughout my placement was excellent. My line manager and I met regularly to discuss my current workplan and provided plenty of opportunity for open discussion. They actively encouraged my development through suggesting new tasks to be involved in and helped me with any issues which arose. Even though my line manager changed halfway through the year, this process was very smooth and management ensured that my new line manager was very familiar with my current projects and my objectives for the year. Additionally, throughout the Covid pandemic and working from home, my supervisors and management team regularly kept in contact to ensure we were able to work from home with ease and to keep us up to date with any information from the wider business.
During my placement, I often had a very busy workplan which could sometimes feel a little overwhelming, however my regular meetings with my supervisors helped me to keep this under control and allowed me to balance my priorities efficiently. The projects I worked on were often very different from one another, which allowed me to gain good experience and knowledge on a variety of tasks. I was busy during the day but rarely felt I needed to work over my allocated hours to complete the work.
I was given a large amount of responsibility during my placement, not only through my regular tasks but also through opportunities to take on extra responsibilities alongside my role as a placement student. For example, I was able to join our department's communications team where I helped plan monthly team meetings and was also able to join a committee with other placement students and graduates to help plan a large conference in which senior members of the business attend.
This placement year has helped to develop my technical abilities through working with new software, and improve my interpersonal skills and building relationships with others. This year has also put my final year of studies in context - seeing where my degree could take me after University has given me more motivation to come back to University and study even harder to achieve. Having this experience has also greatly helped me with graduate job applications.
The atmosphere in the office was always very positive, everyone was very chatty and happy to help with any questions I had. Everyone in the team was very friendly and welcoming, and were super enthusiastic to share their current work with anyone who showed a keen interest in it. The management team were located around the office with the whole team and were therefore very approachable and easy to talk to. There was also plenty of cake available throughout the year!
Overall, the placement was fairly well set up. On the first day, there were a few technical issues, for example some laptops and IT accounts were not set up correctly which was a challenging start however once this was resolved the placement ran smoothly. One element of the placement which was particularly helpful was the introductory course run in the first few weeks for students who had little prior knowledge in air traffic control which was super helpful for someone such as myself.
I felt as though the company was genuinely interested in expanding my knowledge and helping me to develop my skills. My team leader in particular personally offered to help me practice public speaking which I had admitted was an area which I struggled with. This made me feel like the department wanted me to succeed whilst at the company and beyond, and to ensure I was able to get the most out of the opportunities offered to me at the company.
Sports and Social Club
Above 25 days holiday
Working from home
Sadly due to the Covid pandemic the industry has been hit very hard and suffered and therefore the company has also struggled. However, before the pandemic the future employment prospects were very promising; a wide range of departments and roles to work in, and plenty of interesting work to get involved with. I would be very interested in opportunities at the company in the future so definitely will be keeping an eye out and hope to see some soon!
Due to some placement students and graduates starting at different times depending on which department you were joining, there was limited opportunity to mix with these other students unless you actively looked for it. However some examples of these opportunities to mix with students and graduates from other departments if you chose to were the Christmas meal and social evenings every few months. There were also charity events run by the students and graduates which you could get involved with.
Throughout my placement I lived at my family home so I am not too familiar with the rental prices in the area, however talking to other placement students and graduates who I worked alongside throughout my placement they were fairly reasonable, and similar to what students pay for regular student houses. In comparison to prices which some other students have paid whilst working in London and other inner city areas, rental prices in Southampton and Portsmouth are a bargain! The same applies for the price of socialising and evenings out.
In the area in which I worked, the two main places to go out for evenings out are Southampton and Portsmouth. The Nightlife in both of these areas is very good, and have a range of bars and pubs, and large nightclubs. These are cities also have large Universities so are always putting on great events for the students to enjoy which you can get involved with. There is something for everyone in the area!
There were many social activities available outside of work, both in my department and with the rest of the placement students and graduates. For example, myself the others in our department enjoyed a bowling evening out, dinner and drinks and often played sport together after work. The highlight of the year was the Christmas meal which the placement students in our department organised, and which was a great opportunity to celebrate the end of the year with my colleagues.
Placement Year (10 Months+)