I decided to do a placement year as part of my course as I thought it would give me a much better understanding of where I would like to work in future. I hoped it would add some more depth to my course as I'd be able to apply my degree to a job before I properly entered the working world.
My day-to-day work
My placement was at a company called Monodraught, in High Wycombe, which specialises in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) industry.
Monodraught is a small enterprise, so by working there I thought I would have a greater degree of control, more responsibilities in my projects, and a wider range of tasks compared to a larger company where I may have felt I was one small part of a larger machine. I thought this type of experience would be most useful early on in my life.
The role, as an Assistant Development Engineer, was in research and development, heavily involving design and computer-aided design (CAD), which I enjoyed in my course modules.
I would typically start the day by working on the CAD models for whichever projects I was currently working on. Meetings were often held throughout the day to discuss the progress of projects. If any test rigs needed to be set up that day, that would be completed too.
How I benefited
I felt that I was given a lot of responsibility and guidance while working. The amount and complexity of tasks I received scaled nicely, starting off feeling relatively simple and becoming more intense as the year progressed.
The atmosphere is also super friendly at Monodraught. I made a lot of friends my age working there and my other colleagues were great to work with too.
My CAD work has developed immensely since my placement. CAD was a key part of the role and I feel so much stronger in it after having worked with it for a year. I also learned how to manage the 3D printer at work and built upon my knowledge of designing for manufacture relating to 3D printing.
My placement confirmed to me that I would probably really enjoy a research and design role after I graduate, but I am still keen to investigate other areas of work, particularly non-engineering areas, so I can make a fully informed decision.
How the University supported me
The support from the Placement team has been phenomenal. I received my placement very late, in November, due to multiple issues regarding illness and my exams making me at one point decide not to do a placement.
Luckily, a change in my situation meant I was able to do a placement and the Placement team really went the extra mile to provide me with the support I needed. The Placements Manager and Careers Officer were both especially helpful.
My advice for other students
I would tell prospective students to find a society that you really enjoy and find a place on that committee where you think you would do well.
The experience you gain as a member of that committee can be invaluable, especially in interviews with companies where they ask you to speak about times where you have demonstrated certain skills, for example, 'Have you ever dealt with conflict and how did you resolve it?'.
So many of these situations and skills can come up as a committee member and can be relevant to a future job role.