"I have gained a lot of valuable skills and attended training that was offered by the company and relevant to my role, which will be useful in my future career in Computer Science or Data Science/Artificial Intelligence areas."
I've done my placement with Nestlé UK&I Ltd., my role was called Computer Programmer placement and I worked in a small team called Warehouse and Transport Systems Specialists (WATTS) within the Materials Handling team which was part of Supply Chain. This was a great experience to gain insight into various parts of Supply Chain such as the processes they follow.
What attracted you to this placement opportunity?
I was first applying for placements within games companies, however not many of them offer placements, so then I started applying for general Computer Science placements. I really wanted to do a placement year to get work experience before finishing my university course, so I wasn’t looking for any specific companies. I liked the fact the role was mostly about programming applications.
How did you go about securing your placement and what was the process for this?
I applied online through the official Nestlé recruiting website. I then received a phone call after a week or two and was asked to come for an interview. The interview consisted of three parts: the first part was technical test, where I was given some programming questions on paper and 45 minutes to complete it, the second part was competency interview, where my line manager asked me various questions about transferable skills as well as cultural diversity to ensure I was the right fit for the team and the company, the last part was technical interview, where members of the team I worked with asked me questions about the projects I've done at university and my programming and other technical skills.
However, the recruitment process within Nestlé is a usually a bit different. It starts with a video interview after submitting a CV and cover letter. Then there is an assessment centre that includes groupwork tasks as well as an interview for selected candidates. The interview is the last stage of the recruitment process.
Can you describe the various roles and responsibilities of your placement?
The team I worked with focused mainly around project work and user requests, which was a big part of my role but they were also providing support with the systems they managed. Therefore, I had a few projects, which were my main objectives to complete during the first and second half of my placement. Those included developing applications and forms within existing applications as well as creating documentation, usually being part of a bigger scale project. I had regular progress meetings to ensure successful completion of these projects. I have also been involved with day to day support - there was a weekly rota so that every team member was on support at least once a week. However, when I joined, the team was very busy with a very important project and me and a colleague who joined just before me volunteered to cover all support between us for the time it was required. Another part of my role was to deal with user requests, those usually came on daily basis and were logged in a system, it was our own responsibility to solve them alongside other work and to also make sure project work is not affected by the time spent on those.
The projects I've worked on included collaboration with various teams within Supply Chain. Most of my work was focused around programming windows forms applications and working with oracle databases to implement functionality requested by various teams. However, I had one project in collaboration with demand planning/SAS team, which involved using SAS software (SAS is statistics software for predicting trends) to predict consumer order volume for Dolce Gusto coffee.
I was also involved with recruiting the next placement student to take over from me and helped with their induction - I have planned a few weeks of induction for a few students across Supply Chain. This included warehouse tour, day spent with Nestlé’s own driver(s) and meetings with various teams within Supply Chain.
How did the Careers & Employability department (Placements Team) support you both before your placement?
I had a few progress reports to fill in with my line manager that had to be sent to the Placements Team throughout the year. BPIE module was a good preparation to apply for placements and it was useful hearing about experiences from students, who have undertaken a placement.
How did the academic staff support you during your placement?
My placement tutor visited me twice during my placement to discuss the work I've been doing. This was also useful opportunity to discuss final year project ideas. As well as this I had to write a report at the end about the projects I've been working on and my day to day work.
How did your previous studies enable you to be successful during your placement?
The project work I have been doing included programming in languages I already used at the university, which made my work a bit easier. As well as this I was
working closely with databases and some modules I had undertaken in my first and second year prepared me well for that. I already knew about a few project management tools, which I have used at university and those proved to be very useful throughout my placement year.
How will your placement help you with the final year of your degree?
It will make it easier to organise and manage my work in final year of university. As well as this I hope the skills I've gained during placement will help throughout the year significantly. I noticed the transition from placement work back to university was easier than the transition between years of university.
In terms of your career development so far, what have been the benefits of undertaking this placement?
I have been offered full time job to come back to the team I have been working with, however I declined it as it is too early for me to decide just yet and I want to apply for postgraduate courses first. As well as this I have gained a lot of valuable skills and attended training that was offered by the company and relevant to my role, which will be useful in my future career in Computer Science or Data Science/Artificial Intelligence areas.
What would you say to a prospective student thinking about undertaking a placement year?
I would tell them to start applying as soon as possible and to make sure they have well written, concise CV that is adjusted to the role and company they want to apply for (it's a good idea to look at the roles advert and pick keywords and then use those in Skills section on the CV). As well as this it is great experience to learn how to organise your work better in final year.
Was the fact that Plymouth offered a placement year a motivational factor in your decision to choose Plymouth? If so, why?
I didn't know there is an optional placement year until I started the placement preparation module at the end of first year. After I've heard about this I really wanted to do a placement to get some work experience before finishing university.