An Engineering Placement year can provide a valuable opportunity to put your university learning to the test in a real-life manufacturing environment where you'll gain industry knowledge, build new skills and explore all aspects of the business.
In my previous blog I covered the first steps of the application process - from navigating the aptitude tests and preparing for video interviews.
In this second post, I offer some insights on how to handle the final assessment and in-person interview stages - and, if you're successful, what the first few months of your placement are likely to have in store.
Clearing the final hurdles
Hurray - you’ve passed all the initial aptitude tests and you’ve been invited to come in for an interview!
Because of the sheer quantity of applications, many companies will often hold a group assessment day in the final stages, to help them compare the abilities and strengths of the short-listed applicants.
Knowing that you're under such close scrutiny, and that you're competing against others in order to attempt to display your skills of leadership, teamwork, communication etc, can be stressful.
Not surprisingly the tensions are often high and, in my experience at least, that air of competitiveness can sometimes create an underlying atmosphere of aggression. But just remember to stay calm, keep confident and focus on your own strengths.
In terms of the interview itself, be prepared to be asked some pretty probing questions about how you will fit in the role in the day to day running of the company, and what you think you will bring to the specific role or department.
Keep in mind the culture and goals of the company, orient your answers toward the skills required in the job, and be honest in your responses.
What to expect in your new role
After the final interview, you may have days or weeks to wait until the company comes to a final decision.
In my case, it took a total of five months, thirty applications and three interviews before I was offered a position at JJS Manufacturing.
So what have the first few months been like?
When I initially started at JJS, I thought that I would just be sat at my desk taking on the odd small task. But the reality is that the company has gone above and beyond in organising my time here.
Right from the start I've been launched into an intensive four month training period where I'm getting the chance to visit every department of the company on a rotational basis.
Once that's completed I'll then return to the Engineering department for the remainder of my time here.
Witnessing the day to day running of the business from so many different angles has allowed me to see the significant team effort that is required to achieve the common goal.
I've also been able to interact with colleagues whom I might otherwise never have come into contact with had I been confined to the Engineering department from the beginning.
In the second half of my placement I'm going to have the chance to travel to JJS's offshore facility in the Czech Republic.
The opportunity for overseas travel isn't something that many companies offer as part of their placement scheme so I'm looking forward to making the most of this exciting experience.
JJS Manufacturing is a well-established firm that is large enough to be well-known in the industry (and that has the capabilities of advanced manufacturing processes, logistics, and facilities etc) but that is still small enough to give me the opportunity to experience the range of responsibilities that I am keen to take on.
As a result, even at this early stage of my placement, I'm being tasked with providing solutions to small issues on major projects. Being so hands-on so quickly isn't something that I expected - but it has allowed me to feel like a part of the company from the very beginning.