Name: Richard Treeves
University: Universityof Hertfordshire
Degree: BEng (Hons) Sandwich Degree in Aerospace Engineering
Work Experience:Virgin Atlantic Engineering – Undergraduate Engineer. Virgin Atlantic Engineering won the ‘Over 250 Employees – long term placements 4-12 Months’ Category at the 2007/08 National Council for Work Experience Awards.
Why did you decide to do work experience? The Aerospace Engineering course, at the University of Hertfordshire, offers the option to take a year in industry, which the university highly recommends. Top graduate positions are notoriously competitive so doing an industrial placement can really give you the edge. I want to work in the airline busines, and by undertaking an industrial placement at Virgin Atlantic I feel I have greatly increased my chances of being employed on graduating.
Why do this particular placement? I was attracted by the overall structure of the programme, which offers experience in at least four areas of the business, giving me the opportunity to gain a wide range of skills. There is also training offered throughout the 12 months and the chance to gain hands on experience working on aircraft that would prove invaluable for my final year studies back at university.
What did you do on your placement? I spent time in five different areas of the business – Cabin Product Development, Maintenance Planning, Risk and Insurance, Flight Operations, and Propulsion. I completed various projects within these areas, including a project within Flight Operations for Flight Technical Services, which I based my final year project at university on. The project was about fuel burn performance and I had to present a large report of my findings to the company.
What do you believe you got out of the placement? There were many aspects I enjoyed, but perhaps the most prominent of these was actually spending time working on the aircraft and getting work actioned for engineers to carry out on the aircraft. Carrying out major projects that can make a real difference to the department and the airline as a whole was a very rewarding experience. It has also helped with my final year studies, in terms of being able to gain working knowledge of the theory, which will inevitably improve my chances of employment. I’ve already found that my placement has proved beneficial, as I’ve been offered more than one graduate scheme, which I believe is largely because my Industrial Placement differentiated me from other potential candidates. Not only has the placement emphasised my desire to work in the industry to employers, it has also confirmed that the airline industry is where I want to begin my career.
What do you need to succeed at work placements? It is important to go in to a work experience placement willing to learn, to ask questions, and to be enthusiastic. Students must be inquisitive, because you will often need to ask questions in order to understand things. I found that members of staff were only too happy to help and answer these questions. Students should also be willing to work with and meet lots of different people. I worked in five different areas of the business, which meant getting to know five different departments at three different offices. It is essential to build relationships quickly in order to get work completed and show off what you are capable of.
What advice would you give to other people about work experience? If doing work experience as part of a sandwich degree you need to be well organised and prepared. It is important to start searching and applying for placements as early on in the second year as possible. Keeping your CV up to date can help make the application process run more smoothly – even when applications are online, often the information you are required to submit can be found on your CV. If you do get to the interview stage, you need to research both the company and the position thoroughly as this gives you more to talk about in the interview, and shows your enthusiasm for the position.