My Placement Year: The First Few Months

by Sophie Vernon, BSc Motorsports Technology student.

Hello everyone! I’m Sophie and I’m a placement student currently working within a precision engineering company in Birmingham called Brandauer. Many students work in design engineering during their placement, but I wanted to do something different than what I’m used to at University. So, when I went on placement, I chose a role as a Continuous Improvement Engineer.

Essentially my role involves working on projects to improve various areas of the business. I work across all departments with every member of the company, and seeing how every department operates has already given me in depth knowledge of the industry. I’ve also found the role very rewarding as I see immediate effects after putting my projects in place. Don’t get me wrong, in no way is it easy to change the way people think and work, but once you get the ball rolling people become less afraid of change and more willing to embrace it.

the view from my desk
The view from my desk

On my first day, I was quite nervous and obviously that’s normal, but I made sure to put a smile on my face and talk to everyone I could. I’m very grateful that I was placed in an office on the shop floor because this has allowed me to talk to and connect with everyone. I can be shy to start with, but I always try to push myself, so this helped make things a little less overwhelming. Fortunately, no one showed an hostility and they were all more than happy to show me around or have a laugh with me.

I’ve now been with the company since July and I really do feel like part of it. John who is my fellow Continuous Improvement Engineer has been with the business for nearly 20 years and he is a fountain of knowledge. He’s always eager to teach me and for me to teach him. I spent two days teaching him tricks of Excel because he had seen what I could do and wanted to learn for himself. This made me very proud because I admire his knowledge and passion for the business immensely. If you can find someone who has great love for the company they work for, make sure to keep them close because they are the best example.

Working on health and safety
Working on health and safety

The hardest thing for me so far has been the early starts. I’m not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination so starting work at 7.30am has left me exhausted. I’m still not used to it and I’m not sure I will get used to it over the year but it’s just part of the job. Luckily for me the coffee machine only costs 25p and it’s actually very good! On the bad side, I’m never allowed to moan about 9am lectures again.

So far I feel I’ve made an impact on the company and that was my main goal for the year. My job satisfaction comes from productivity and feeling like I’ve been making a difference. This has been backed up by feedback from my Manager and our CEO. This has taught me that I should never be afraid to ask for feedback because more often than not people are happy to give it. It shows you want to improve and progress which should be everyone’s aim.

Don’t be afraid of something new, don’t be afraid of change and don’t be afraid of feedback. The three of these things together are what will advance your career and your life. Take that placement year, you won’t regret it.

You can learn more about Sophie and her course from her video below. For more information about Engineering placements click here.