This review was submitted over 4 years ago, so some of the information it contains may no longer be relevant.
I've enjoyed the placement immensely and was fortunate enough to interact with a whole host of colleagues in nearly all departments present at Hazelwood. The staff at the site are all very welcoming and are keen to help out should you need help or advice. There were plenty of opportunities to improve and develop skills, as well as be introduced and learn new knowledge in areas not heavily accustomed to e.g. chemists understanding basics of automotive tehcnology.
Despite the position as a placement student the responsibily given and acknowledged is at a very good level. You are given possibly one or two projects to begin with and as both your own confidence and other's confidence in you increases, the workload increases. As such your supervisors, technology managers etc begin to look to you to for key information. On a personal level, the staff in Applied Sciences are all very warmehearted and amicable with birthdays and occasions appropriately celebrated.
As a student, your immediate point-of-call is your placement supervisor, followed by your office and then Manager of your department. The guidance, advice and support given by my supervisor was unwavering; as well as effective and encouraging. In addition day-to-day queries such as "how-do-you" questions were resolved by my colleagues in my office as they were very approachable. The interaction with higher management depends on your own involvement and openness but they were supportive during one-to-one meetings.
For my particular project, I was starting from scratch to design a new test and hence the workload was high to begin with. In addition to understanding the Lubrizol system, this meant a particularly busy time for the first few months of the placement. Afterwards, depending on the project deadlines, the workload was manageable with your average periods of business and other times when you had less work. However this gave you time to plan ahead for other projects you're working on or wanted to help out with.
I was given a good deal of responsibility and the nature of my MChem project required me to take a a large amount of control over a new test I developed. Hence I was tasked with carrying out scheduling, undertaking the test, collecting results, collating information and presenting to my supervisor and others concerned. Additionally, I was given other projects where I was to assist and carry out other tests and report the results to various colleagues.
The nature of deadlines in an industrial environment improved my organisational skills, and prioritisation of workloads. In addition the requirement to present results and updates in project meetings, departmental meetings and an annual technical talk furthered my presentation skills. In particular my public speaking skills have improved greatly as my Chemistry degree had limited opportunities to give presentations individually, favouring group presentations. In addition, those skills coupled with the ability to work in various teams in differing projects has definitely improved interpersonal skills. Undoubtedly, they all are essential in any workplace and can be transferred to a whole array of environments.
The office was generally a good place to be in; with the ability to get on with work effectively but also take a break and get involved with the office banter.
Due to the nature of my primary project, the work was organised around the progress of developing a new test. Hence, the work was driven by the effort of the team involved and was generally well organised. Other projects were quite reactive to customer needs and would be short-term based but the running of tests was scheduled effectively.
There are several opportunites for you to get involved with training courses that Lubrizol host and fund. Examples are often related to personal improvement such as presentation skills but often targeted at full-time employees rather than student specific.
Sports and Social Club
From talking to past students, the employment prospects were limited at the Hazelwood with opportunities to continue higher education via a Lubrizol sponsored PhD a more traditional route. My placement however was perhaps a transition year in the Applied Sciences department as there were a few positions that were open to application. For instance, the retirement of a fellow colleague in my office led to being questioned on the possibility of taking up his role on a full-time basis. In addition a couple of temporary Chemist/Technician positions were available. In addition there is the opportunity to look into PhD applications at universities that Lubrizol collaborate with such as Warwick/Nottingham/Leeds.
As students we probably went out as a big group every few weeks but a lot of us went to the pubs every week or so. There were also several times when the department would be taken out for a meal when senior management from the American site in Wickliffe, Ohio, came over. In addition, there were Christmas meals, the biannual Lubrizol ball and general birthday drinks etc.
Derby isn't too heavily priced and the pubs are generally reasonably. Living at Derby Uni accomodation which was within walking distance to town was an advantage but the costs were probably in line with what was spent during years at uni.
Derby isn't too bad in terms of a night out with a lot of decent pubs dotted around the town. The clubs perhaps are a bit lacklustre, but good transport routes to Nottingham and Sheffield provide a better time in the bigger cities.
There is a well subsidised sports and social club where you're able to take part in a whole host of activities. Sports including football, volleyball, badminton. Lubrizol are a company that are very keen on running (all sorts of distances). Other activities organised are go-karting, trips to London/York, bowling, hiking, Munroe-bagging (conquering Scottish mountains).
Placement Year (10 Months+)
5th June 2014