Josh Sullivan - Electronics Engineer at Rolls Royce

I think the placement year helped me focus myself towards my work and improve my knowledge and confidence in the professional arena. Also now going into my final year I feel more focused and ready to get started. Furthermore, it made me realise the importance of meeting deadlines when people are relying on you


Who was your placement with and what was your job title?

My placement year was at Rolls Royce (Controls and Data Services) as an Electronics Engineer.

What attracted you to this placement opportunity?

I wanted to get some work experience with a reputable company whilst gaining both practical skills and industrial experience. Rolls Royce seemed to tick all these boxes. In addition to this, the application process was relatively straight forward as it only required a CV to be submitted online and there was also the option to join their Graduation scheme when I finished university. The yearly salary of £17,500 also attracted me as it allowed me to explore a career path and new city easily.

How did you go about securing your placement and what was the process for this?

To secure my placement I had to submit my CV online, after this I was asked to come in for a half day interview which was split into a one to one interview, a short presentation and a group task. In order to ensure I had the best possible chance of success, I brought along with me a prototype that I had designed and built as part of one of my modules. The aim of which was to display my passion for the subject and distinguish me from the other candidates.

Can you describe the various roles and responsibilities of your placement?

Whilst on placement I was part of the Trent1000-TEN team. My main responsibilities lay in the production of some of the safety critical reports to ensure the Engine control unit (ECU) met all of its requirements. I also played a key role in the initial testing of the new Trent1000-TEN ECUs just after they had come off of the production line. Furthermore, I was involved with some environmental testing, in which the ECUs were placed in chambers and subjected to extreme hot and cold temperatures, thus ensuring that they would perform sufficiently on an aircraft.

How did the Careers & Employability department (Placements Team) support you both before your placement?

The department played a key role in helping me become a competitive candidate as from our first session the Placements Team stressed the importance of making sure my CV was up to date and my cover letter was finalised. Thus through applying the appropriate pressure they made sure I was ready to start applying for placements as soon as they became available. I was also regularly emailed with placement offers as they came available which meant I could be one of the first to get my CV in, widening my chances of success. The placement team also ran mock interviews where I was able to receive feedback on what I was doing well and also where I could improve, providing me with useful practice and experience.

How did the academic staff support you during your placement?

Lecturers were always available to support us or pass on any placements that had directly been emailed to them.

How did your previous studies enable you to be successful during your placement?

Plymouth University has a strong focus on backing up all theoretical studying with practical knowledge. This means that whilst on placement you have the confidence and appropriate skills to get stuck into tasks. I think this makes students from Plymouth University attractive to potential employers.

How will your placement help you with the final year of your degree?

I think the placement year helped me focus myself towards my work and improve my knowledge and confidence in the professional arena. Also now going into my final year I feel more focused and ready to get started. Furthermore, it made me realise the importance of meeting deadlines when people are relying on you.

In terms of your career development so far, what have been the benefits of undertaking this placement?

Undertaking this placement gave me a wealth of experiences to put onto my CV and make me a more competitive candidate, as I now have the confidence and knowledge necessary for work in this area, hopefully making me more employable for when I leave university. Evidence for which can be seen in getting a summer placement as Gtech before my final year, which I believe my year at Rolls Royce helped secure me.

What would you say to a prospective student thinking about undertaking a placement year?

Having completed a placement year puts you in a much better position when you finish university. I always knew I was going to do one and it was one of the best decisions I made so I would fully recommend doing a placement year. It allows you to differentiate yourself from the crowd whilst applying for jobs as employers can see you have the appropriate practical skills for the professional arena to back up your academic achievements, thus allowing you to be pickier with those offered to you.


Inspired by this story?

For more information about student placements, please visit the School of Computing, Electronics and Mathematics' student placements page.

Want to find similar student placement students?

If you would like to find out what other Electrical and electronic engineering and robotics students are currently doing, please visit the electrical engineering placements page.