This review was submitted over 4 years ago, so some of the information it contains may no longer be relevant.
The placement year was split into two, six-month placements which each took place in a different department. The year was well structured and the work was interesting and relevant to my degree course. The site at which I was based and the work environment it provided was great, and my colleagues were a pleasure to work with.
You are spoken to and treated as if you are a regular employee, not a placement student. I felt that the work I was doing benefited the department and colleagues who I worked with. I got along very well with my colleagues and felt like a valued member of the team.
I was allocated a technical manager who I could approach regarding the work I currently had on, and they would often hand me work to do from their project which I was involved with. I was also allocated a placement manager who would deal with things like my professional development throughout the year, my objectives and my workload (i.e. whether I was getting the right amount of work).
I was very rarely left with little to do. Aside from the main assignments given to me by my technical manager I was given the opportunity to work in other projects so there was usually a lot to do. My average work day was fast paced and engaging.
I was given a good amount of responsibility - I was assigned work and expected to complete it by the necessary deadlines, and that went for work that I took upon myself as well. However, there was also plenty of support available if I needed to ask questions about the work I was doing, or if I thought I wasn't going to meet a particular deadline.
We received a lot of useful training on a variety of topics including a number of technical engineering topics as well as those focusing on soft skills such as presentation skills. Throughout the year I gained experience in writing technical documents and had plenty of opportunities to work with physical hardware. The year developed my communication skills in general since I communicated with a number of colleagues from various positions in the company on a daily basis. The company has a good process for setting objectives and your placement manager ensures that you are making progress towards them across the year. The engineering placement which I was on was also acknowledged by the IET, which provided me with the opportunity to gain "EngTech" accreditation.
The offices are open-plan, giving the workplace a relaxed atmosphere. Everyone I worked with was friendly, knowledgeable and approachable so I never felt as though I was in over my head - there's always someone you can approach to ask questions if you need to. There is no "us and them" mentality with more senior members of staff.
Each of the two 6-month placements were planned well, with my role clearly defined from the start. I was rarely left with little work to do, and though I often felt challenged by the work I was being given I never felt overwhelmed due to the help that was available if I required it.
As mentioned previously, I received various training sessions on a wide range of topics. Personal development is taken seriously and you have a placement manager who helped to focus on what you wanted to achieve from the year, and ensured that progress was being made throughout it.
Above 25 days holiday
Placement students are given an assessment day towards the end of the year for positions on the company's graduate scheme. Your performance from across the year is also taken into consideration. Future employment within NATS seems very appealing since it provides a pleasant working environment with challenging work and good benefits. A lot of employees here have worked here for a long time (10+ years) which says something about the company! Placement students are given the opportunity to apply for summer placements, which extend the placement through to September, which otherwise end in July.
The placement students and graduates met on a weekly basis to discuss the scheme and the work they've been involved with. Placement students often organised social events amongst each other, and other colleagues would extend invitations to staff socials.
Whiteley, where the main offices are based, is very quiet with only 1 pub. Southampton and Portsmouth are both short taxi journeys away though.
Socials and charity events were organised regularly.
Placement Year (10 Months+)