This review was submitted over 4 years ago, so some of the information it contains may no longer be relevant.


  • The Role
  • The Company
  • The Culture

Role Description

I was a member of the Technical Assessment Team. My principal duties were the same as the other engineers on the team; to analyse and assess devices (circuit-boards, radios, etc) recovered from Operational Theatres like Afghanistan, and to write reports on our findings. Our work directly supports UK armed forces and other teams and departments at DSTL.

    The Role

  • 1. To what extent did you enjoy your work placement or internship?
  • This was my first job, so I didn't have much to compare it to. Overall I found it to be very enjoyable and worthwhile, although my security clearance was 3 months late in coming through and so my start was badly delayed. As a result I missed out on some of the introduction to the organisation that could have improved my experiences.


  • 2. To what extent did you feel valued by your colleagues?
  • I always felt like an active member of the team, as the work I was tasked with was of a similar level to what they were all doing. The office was always a very friendly atmosphere. However I would have appreciated my colleagues taking a greater interest and having more input into some of my more lengthy and individual tasks.


  • 3. To what extent were you given support and guidance by management/your supervisor(s)?
  • Most of my support came from the colleagues on my team who brought me up to speed at the start of the placement and were able to support me throughout. While always very friendly and welcoming, my manager was usually too busy to be able to be as involved in my placement as I think we would have both liked.


  • 4. How busy were you on a daily basis?
  • At the start of my placement I was a bit bored for a couple of weeks as I was still settling in and lacked the requisite skills to get stuck in. Once this barrier was overcome, I usually had some sort of work to, ranging from the menial just to keep to busy, up to very interesting and innovative work. I had a reasonable amount of control over my workload and could ask for more tasks as required.


  • 5. How much responsibility were you given during your placement?
  • I was given some very interesting and lengthy tasks that were purely my responsibility. To complete them I had to do a lot of learn computer programming for the first time, and it was a very rewarding and interesting experience. These projects will hopefully be very useful for my team in the future.


  • 6. To what extent did/will the skills you developed, and training you received, assist you in your degree studies and beyond?
  • Skills like programming, time management, team work and practical engineering will all be invaluable on my engineering course and in my future career.


    The Company

  • 7. What was the general atmosphere in your office?
  • In general my team was very friendly, and once a few members of staff had returned from leave there was always a laugh to be had. I had an especially good time once the past students had returned to the team for summer placements. However a few of my colleagues were a bit eccentric and/or dull; it took a while for me to get used to the occasional lengthy unwanted lectures on uninteresting topics, and I had to improve my patience to deal with other peoples' foibles.


  • 8. How well organised was the overall work placement or internship set up?
  • My experience was spoiled by my security clearance being delayed by 3 months, pushing my start date from September back to December. However this was mostly the fault of the vetting agency (a different government department) and had less to do with Dstl and the Year in Industry program. Once I finally started, I had missed out on the initial introductions that had been provided to other students and so I may have missed out on a few good opportunities. However for the rest of my time the Year in Industry staff were always very helpful, especially the mentor they assigned me.


  • 9. In terms of personal training and development, to what extent did the company or firm invest in you?
  • I was allowed to take part in a number on courses whilst still on company time. In return I believe that the work I have done could provide savings for the organisation that more than make their investment worthwhile.


  • 10. What were the perks on your work placement?
  • Flexi Time

    Subsidised/Company Gym

    Staff Sales/Staff Shop

    Above 25 days holiday


  • 11. How appealing are future employment prospects within the organisation?
  • While I have enjoyed this gap year at Dstl, I have realised that Defense is not a field I'm especially interested in or passionate about, and as a result I doubt I will pursue further work with this organisation.


    The Culture

  • 12. Was there a good social scene amongst any fellow placement students/colleagues?
  • My late start meant that it took me some time to get involved with the other students. I found them to be a very friendly group, and we made numerous trips to local pubs and a few parties.


  • 13. What was the cost of living and socialising in the area you worked in?
  • Sevenoaks/Fort Halstead and the surrounding area is quite expensive. The cost of rent is particularly high, but I think we are paid more to compensate.


  • 14. What was the Nightlife like in the area you worked?
  • The closest clubs to Sevenoaks/Fort Halstead are in Tunbridge Wells, and even these aren't fantastic. However there are many good pubs and bars nearby, and it only takes 30 minutes on the train to get to the centre of London.


  • 15. Were there many opportunities to get involved in activities outside of work?
  • Sevenoaks is my home town, so I mostly socialised with friends from school. Although I never took part, I believe that Dstl Fort Halstead had a new-starters group which was always running trips and nights out.


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Placement Year (10 Months+)

31st July 2013

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