Produced by Guest blogger
Caitlin is a final year student studying BEng (Hons) Mechanical Engineering. Between her second and final year she took a placement year. In this guest blog, she talks about her placement experience and how that has influenced her future career aspirations.
I study Mechanical Engineering with a hope to work in the automotive industry post-university, so a placement year at Rolls-Royce Motor Cars was a dream come true. I spent my 13 months there within the Exterior Surface Planning department, working with the Bespoke, New Model and Structure planners there. I was given the amazing opportunity to work on the upcoming all-electric Rolls-Royce, any bespoke colours and models, as well as the actual structural engineering side of the entire paint shop.
Starting the placement whilst we were coming out of the COVID-19 restrictions was an intense experience as I was hybrid working (50/50 working from home and in-office) – which was a complete U-turn from not going onto campus since March 2020! Working from home is such a unique experience due to not being able to interact with everyone face-to-face, however at RRMC this had no impact due to the close relationships my team had with each other, as well as other members of the company. The automotive industry is also a very heavily male dominated one, however I am one of only three girls in my year on my course, so this wasn’t anything new to me!
The experience is something which I will benefit from for the rest of my career. I have gained so many transferable skills, working in an office is something I had never done before, however now I have the confidence and communication skills necessary to have when in this environment. I learnt that communicating in the correct way is key when dealing with both clients and colleagues – it can be challenging however has to be done.
My year in industry opened my eyes to the extreme variety of career paths there actually are. I don’t think this is spoken about enough and you’re never really made aware of it until you are in a workplace, to understand the number of different departments and areas there are available to go into. I am now interested in the engineering project management path also. I hadn’t thought about this before so don’t worry if you get to your placement year and still have no clue what you want to go into after university!
My advice for any students wanting to go into mechanical engineering, would be to keep your mind open – it’s a very vast course which is great as it means you can take it in any direction! There is unlimited opportunities you could take your career path with this course. (And it definitely needs more women so don’t be daunted by the ratios of men to women!!)