My role was focused across the North West and Central region covering areas from Manchester to Euston. I was involved in many projects including developing the multi-million pound Performance Innovation fund, creating internal web pages and analysing trespassing data. I also had the opportunity to complete rotations in other areas such as internal audit, group finance and corporate commercial to expand my skillset. Finally, I completed an external attachment at one of our regions lead train operating companies.
The main new skills I developed on this placement were focused on technology. I was able to develop my abilities in Power Automate to help streamline tasks through automation and build upon my Power BI capabilities. This allowed me to create useful dashboards that were shared across the company. Network Rail had many industry experts who were always happy to help when learning these new skills. I also had the opportunity to build on my presenting skills by delivering progress updates to key stakeholders .
We were given as much responsibility as we wanted to take on which I really enjoyed. I was given the autonomy to learn new skills and lead on some personal projects such as starting an Intern Network for placement students. I also worked my way up to have a leading role in developing a multi-million pound innovation fund where I had the opportunity to programme manage. Every project allowed me to contribute something meaningful not just to Network Rail but the passengers who used the railway every day.
My line managers were amazing and everyone I interacted with were very supportive. People were always happy to help if there were any issues or I wanted to try something new. Everyone encouraged me to seek rotations in different areas to experience other parts of the business always pushed me to do my best. I really enjoyed the autonomy I had in my placement year and the creativity that allowed while knowing I had people I could go to if I needed it.
My placement was during lockdown so, although we had the option to go into work as essential workers, I chose to complete most of my placement working from home. Even so, there were always lots of online events and wellbeing sessions and higher management were always encouraging employees to exercise and get fresh air while working. The team always made sure to have small events such as quizzes to make sure everyone got the chance to interact. Network Rail were also very supportive of my volunteering and had initiative's to support this.
I really loved my placement at Network Rail. Everyone was always wanting me to succeed and I had such strong, positive role models that I could look up to. I also found a great group of friends that I could talk to and generally have a laugh with. I was quite nervous before starting my placement, especially as I would be working from home, but the experience exceeded my expectations. I would recommend Network Rail to everyone!
Although you get taught a lot in the role, it's always best to fully research the company before going to the interview. I find the best way to do this is to read the annual reports. I would also think about how Network Rail interacts with the Government - especially with the new changes underway! It's also really important to understand how Network Rail is funded and who they are accountable to. Finally, just have fun and be yourself!
Placement Year (10 Months+)