Gap Year Student: Software Developer at Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)

Placement Year (10 Months+)
Harwell, near Didcot South East
Review Date
£16,000 - £17,999
Computer Science Physics


The Role



The Role

Role Description

Software Developer for the open source Mantid project.

Contribute to all stages of the development process; requirements gathering, coding, bug fixing, testing, user support, etc.

1. To what extent did you enjoy your work placement or internship?

I thoroughly enjoyed my placement. The work was interesting as well as a challenge. The people working at ISIS are very friendly and helpful.


2. To what extent did you feel valued by your colleagues?

I was made to feel like a valued member of the team, and that my contributions actually mattered. The "end-product" of my work is now being used by the scientists at ISIS every day.


3. To what extent were you given support and guidance by management/your supervisor(s)?

My supervisors were very supportive where necessary, but did not try to micro-manage everything I did. I'd say they struck the perfect balance here.


4. How busy were you on a daily basis?

There was always work to be getting on with, and it was always work of real consequence. There was slight pressure around releases, but my manager was always able to redistribute work around the team if things got too busy.


5. How much responsibility were you given during your placement?

I was given a lot of responsibility to organise my own work and manage priorities.


6. To what extent did/will the skills you developed, and training you received, assist you in your degree studies and beyond?

This was the main selling point of the placement as far as I was concerned. Learning to code at University or at home is one thing, but doing it in a setting as part of a team of dedicated and professional developers is something completely different.

In this respect I'd rate my placement as probably more important than my degree.


The Organisation

7. What was the general atmosphere in your office?

The office is quiet, but the real strength of the placement in this regard is the fact that there will be a dozen or more other placement students on campus. They will be working in various other fields (scientific and otherwise) and be from all over the country.


8. How well organised was the overall work placement or internship set up?

I was off and running from day one.


9. In terms of personal training and development, to what extent did the company or firm invest in you?

There was little in the way of formal, "classroom" training, but the framework is there within the team to give all the "on-the-job" training you need.


10. What were the perks on your work placement?

  • Flexi Time
  • Sports and Social Club
  • Staff Sales/Staff Shop
  • Above 25 days holiday

11. How appealing are future employment prospects within the organisation?

They rehired me on a permanent basis after I graduated!

Employers struggle to find out much about people in Assessment Centres and the like, and often times have to take a gamble on people. So they treat placements like a year-long interview which they can be sure about. If you get a placement here and you make a good impression, there is a STRONG chance you're going to be asked to come back.



12. Was there a good social scene amongst any fellow placement students/colleagues?

There will be a dozen or more other placements of a similar age working on campus. I hope you enjoy nights out in Oxford.


13. What was the cost of living and socialising in the area you worked in?

OK I guess, for down south!


14. What was the Nightlife like in the area you worked?

Oxford and Abingdon are the main places for nights out.


15. Were there many opportunities to get involved in activities outside of work?

There were plenty of opportunities to get involved in non-work activities.