The arrival of our placement students each summer is a high point in our calendar. Each year, summer interns join us for eight weeks and industrial placement students for a year, with the possibility of a job to return to once they have finished the final year of their degree. Ned and Aubrey joined us as industrial placement students in July 2016 and returned this month as full-time members of staff. I caught up with them to ask about their industrial placement experience and how they feel about returning to us.
The Industrial Placement
Ned studied Computer Science at the University of Nottingham. When it came to applying for an industrial placement year, Ned already had us on his list. As a student at Oldham Sixth Form College, he saw some of our posters displayed in the Science Centre and applied for a work experience placement. Having enjoyed his time here, he was sure it was the best option for his industrial placement year.
For Ned, the industrial placement year was particularly valuable in improving the way he reads code. Reading code in a real-world situation while working on our clients’ systems made the coding exercises assigned by lecturers in his final year a lot easier to complete.
Aubrey was a Software Engineering student at Manchester Metropolitan University when he first heard about the company. Our Chief Exec. gave a guest lecture about careers in the IT industry and Aubrey liked the sound of working here. He was so sure it was the right place for him, that he didn’t apply anywhere else!
If you follow us on social media, you’ll know that we have an active social calendar. Aubrey really enjoyed the social side of the placement year, with regular activities such as board game nights and our legendary official events! He also liked the dynamic of a small office, where everybody knows everyone and it’s easy to approach others for help and advice about a piece of work.
The Final Year of University
Any former student knows that the final year of university really steps up the pressure. Ned said that his last year was much better for having done a year in industry, with all of the real-world experience he was exposed to. Knowing that he would be returning to us at the end of his exams was also hugely beneficial, as he could focus on his studies and didn’t have to spend time applying for jobs like most of his peers. Ned also gave a presentation to other Computer Science students about the advantages of a year in industry, highlighting that it was a great way to learn more about your discipline, which is ultimately what university is all about!
For Aubrey, returning to university was a big change after having spent a year in work. He felt that in the workplace – surrounded by people further along in their careers and with more developed programming skills – he was able to learn more than in a lecture room. Instantly applying what he’d learnt to a live case also helped his professional development, as newly gained knowledge had a real-world impact rather than just being confined to a theoretical classroom exercise. When it came to his final year projects, Aubrey also found these easier to do as he’d been exposed to so many problem-solving scenarios while working with us.
Returning to Work
Once the final year exams and celebrations were over, it was time to return to work! Ned says he is looking forward to working on live cases again. He enjoys helping out customers and knowing that his work makes a difference. Receiving an email from a customer saying that they’re happy with the work he’s done is really fulfilling. He’s also excited that we have a new pool table, so we know how he’ll be spending his lunchtimes!
While leaving university may be bittersweet for some, Aubrey is pleased to have a change of pace and to have something to work on every day. He’s also hoping to bring his academic work into the company. In his final year project, Aubrey worked on a reservation management system with the idea that some of its elements could potentially be applied here on his return. This mixture of the real world and the academic shows exactly why industrial placement years can be so beneficial to both students and employers.
When I asked what advice the two of them would give to our new placement students starting next month, they both said: don’t be afraid to ask for help! Entering the workplace as a student may be challenging, but with the right training and a good support system, it can be an incredibly valuable and rewarding experience.
Welcome back Ned and Aubrey – we hope you enjoy your return to the fold!