I really enjoyed my work placement year. This is because I was able to develop as a person and as a professional. As a person I was able to develop my personal skills, such as time management and responsibility. As a professional I was able to educate myself while on the job, learning about how air navigation service providers operate as well as how the operations at Swanwick work. I enjoyed my placement due to the support and encouragement I got from my line manager, department, senior managers and the early careers team.
I felt extremely valued by my colleagues. This is because throughout the year I never felt like a student who was only there for a year, I felt part of the department. I was given numerous projects to work on which involved me working with some of my colleagues. The belief and responsibility entrusted in me from management was really appreciated as it allowed me to work to the best of my abilities. Even during lockdown and the furlough scheme, the fact that I never got furloughed and was part of the team throughout the pandemic shows me how valued I was to my colleagues.
I had a very good relationship with my line managers and head of department and further senior management. This is evident through the fact that I still keep in tough with them now, even after I have left the company. The support given to me was immense, they were always supportive of me getting the most out of this year placement. They allowed me not just to conduct my tasks for the department but also allowed me to shadow other departments and visit Luton and Heathrow tower. On a personal level, I have been given a lot of support, meaning that if anything was wrong or I needed to speak about something, it was very easy to approach management.
While based in the office I was busy everyday. This is due to the department I was in, workload in the office correlates with the workload in the Ops room. I had weekly tasks that I needed to complete and had allocated specific days to complete them. I was always working on different projects for the Head of Safety and the head of my department, meaning I was never not busy at work. I wasn’t always busy during the WFH period as there was less traffic due to COVID-19 which mean there were days I didn’t have much to do and it was a struggle to help any of my colleagues with their work or for them to give me work to do.
I was given lots of responsibility throughout my placement year. I had numerous projects that I worked on throughout the year, ranging from projects I had taken over from the last placement student to projects I was given to start. I was allowed to add my own influence onto the projects, enabling me to showcase my own knowledge and intuition. There were cases where if someone had a question relating to some topics, I would be the person in the department they would come to as it was a project I lead.
I gained many skills during my time at NATS. These skills link to my expanded knowledge of ATC language, radar and map reading skills and analytical skills. These will assist me in my degree as many pieces of coursework need analytical skills to complete them to a high level. The other skills have enabled me to be at an advantage when I get a job in the future, as I hopefully want to become an air traffic controller
The general atmosphere in the office was positive and happy. Everybody got along with each other, with it being a professional but banter-like environment. It was clear when people were focused on something as the office would be quieter and you could tell when people were relaxing or wanted a break as would start talking or would get a coffee. Everybody was always willing to help each other, which meant I knew I could rely on everyone to help me when and if I needed it
The placement was well organised by my department. This is because they had specific work set up for me when I started and provided me with training and opportunities to learn throughout my time with them. In terms of the Early Careers side, I was supported well by my supervisor there. However, being based at Swanwick meant it wasn’t always easy to take part in Early Careers activities or sessions as they were usually based at CTC.
Due to the department I was in I had to learn a lot to perform well in my role. However, a lot of the training and skills developed during my time are not interchangeable to other roles and jobs. There was the My Development system that allowed us to gain experience and knowledge on various different topics and skills that I wanted to enhance. It was such a vast system that I wasn’t able to complete everything I wish I could.
Sports and Social Club
Above 25 days holiday
Working from home
I would love to get a job back at the organisation and would always recommend anyone to work there. I will always be keeping an eye out for any possible roles available at NATS as I really enjoyed myself and can see myself being able to work myself up within the company and have a successful career with them. I believe if anybody was to work for them, they would develop as a person and as a professional.
There was a good social scene between fellow placement students. There were a few events that were set up for all students which allowed us to make friends and create groups that would eventually become really close friendship groups. The social scene at Swanwick was sparse as there were very few of us based there, but luckily within my department we had monthly socials which was fun to take part in as it allowed me to get to know my colleagues better
Cost of accommodation was approximately half my salary, thus not cheap but overly expensive either. This was because it was difficult to house-share as you were only introduced to other placement students close to the start date. Southampton isn’t a cheap city but isn’t as expensive as other cities like London. Since it is a university cities it was still cheap enough to go out and socialise multiple times throughout the week with friends and colleagues.
The nightlife in the area was average. You had the choice of Southampton or Portsmouth, neither known for their nightlife. The unfortunate side effect of working Monday-Friday, it meant you missed a lot of events as they were on weekdays. There was choice of where you could go but nothing too special. At times it seemed worth it to get a train into London and have a good night there then an average night here.
There were numerous activities that were set up to take part in after work hours. This ranged from gym classes, football and other sports as well as other activities. However, the timings of these activities didn’t always work out for those who lived far from the centres. Also, some activities were seasonal, and due to COVID-19 I wasn’t able to experience the full availability of activities that would have been available for me and others.
Placement Year (10 Months+)