Overall the year was a really good experience and I'm glad I chose to take a placement year as it has given me invaluable experience for the future. It was good to be around other placement students and colleagues of similar age, and there was usually something happening socially on the weekends. I always enjoyed my job and the work I did due to the variety of tasks and responsibility that I was given. One of the best things about this placement is working in two different departments for 6 months each as it really gives you a chance to experience different business areas while learning different skills.
Once I had showed everyone what I could do, I did feel quite valued by my colleagues. However, there were still moments when I felt that just because I was a placement student that my point of view was looked down on or not taken seriously by others in the workplace. Luckily this became a rare occassion as I progressed through the year and as I proved to colleagues that my opinion should be taken into account.
I had a really great experience, with both my managers being extremely supportive throughout my placement. They were always on hand to answer any questuions I had and would always find the time to sit down with me for a catch-up when requested. On the most part, the wider office was also very supportive and most people would be happy to give guidance and assistance if you asked a question.
With a healthy mix of day to day tasks and longer term projects the workload was mostly sufficient. If it ever did get quiet there would always be something else you could get involved with. Naturally, some departments are busier than others, but you will never be left sitting with nothing to do. You're encouraged to speak up about workload if it's too much or too little and your managers will always make sure you're being used effectively.
Once you have found your feet within the company/department you really get given a lot of responsibility. Over the course of my placement I was allowed to lead many projects and have significant inputs on others. You just have to gain your colleagues trust and confidence in your abilities and the level of responsibility increases naturally.
I would say that the training aspect of the programme was the biggest negative of the placement. I was expecting to have a lot more training than we received and really felt that more could have been done. Ultimately, we are only there for a year and I felt there should have been a stronger emphasis on our training and development. Of course, I did develop a lot of general office skills and some department specific skills but not all of them can be transferred outside of the company.
The general atmosphere of the office was good, with everyone being very friendly and welcoming. As you get to know people in the company you get to the stage where you are always bumping into familiar faces. As placement students, and considering you're only there for a year, you do get suprisingly well known around the building which makes working there a lot more relaxed. Another great thing is that the atmosphere was one in which even Department Heads and Directors were easily approachable.
Quite well, you have a pre induction day a few months before you start where you can meet all the other placement students and ask current placement students questions etc. You then have an induction week in your first week where you are taken through all the basics and gently settled in to working at the company and taught how everything generally works. The two 6 month placements allow you to maximise the variety of skills you're exposed to.
Unfortunately we only received 3 training sessions throughout the whole year which I was disappointed about. I would have loved to receive a lot more personal training and development and believe it would have made me enjoy the placement more, knowing that I was being invested in and developing my skills. Most personal training and development was done by myself on the job.
At the end of the placement you find out if you will be offered a graduate job, if there is space in the headcount the following year. PSA Peugeot Citroën has a strong tradition of taking its placement students on as graduates due to the time and money already invested in them and the advantages of bringing someone in who already knows the company and its systems etc.
Yes, the social scene was good as you had the placement student, graduates and also the equivalents from France who often went out together. There was also the occasional night out with other people from work, as well as the annual Christmas Party and Quiz.
In general the cost of living was similar to what I was paying at university as we let through a student letting agency and lived in Coventry. If you wanted to, you could easily live further out, in Leamington Spa for example, and commute into work but you would pay more for housing. Social expenditures were comparable to university/student prices but I found the price for taxis to be quite expensive compared to what i was used to.
Coventry has a few bars and clubs and the proximity to Birmingham and Leamington Spa meant that there was never a shortage of places to go out. Whether it was casual drinks or clubbing, there was always something for everyone all year round. The benefit of this is that no matter where you live and decide to commute from there will plenty to do.
We had the chance to do some charity work in our induction week and take part in some charity events during the year but generally it was very limited and I was often left wanting to get involved in more.