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This is a guest blog by Mollie Douglas, who is currently in her placement year with JCB. Mollie is studying BSc (Hons) Product Design at BU and will be starting her final year in September.

Mollie standing on the beach wearing a beanie hat

Mollie on Bournemouth Beach

I can 100% recommend doing a placement year, it’s such a valuable experience and the things I’ve learned and been exposed to at BU in my first two years have been a great steppingstone in preparing me for my year in industry.

The process hasn’t been without challenges though, as I felt placement opportunities for my cohort were still affected by the impact Covid-19. Despite there being lots of help available, applying for a placement can feel long and frustrating at times. It’s definitely worth it, but you have to persist to get the best opportunities out there! I’ve applied to 98 places and thanks to the support and quick responses from the team at BU, I secured a placement with JCB.

My JCB experience

A group picture of 14 people in the dark with head torches on, dressed in warm clothing

JCB team building

JCB has done an excellent job at giving me a wide variety of opportunities. They set up my year so that I would get to work within 4 different teams; Design Engineering, Industrial Design, Manufacture Engineering, and a Commercial Placement to finish. Each of my Line Managers are always going the extra mile to get me involved in a variety of projects and experiences, which has been a really valuable experience and meant I got a taste of lots of different parts of their business. I’ve been to quarries, shows (sometimes at the NEC), and many factories.

So far, my favourite part of the placement has been in Manufacture Engineering at the JCB Cabs factory. The team was great at getting me involved in all the most exciting live projects. Working in the office, the factory floor and joining top manger meetings.

JCB has also further invested in me and trained me in many skills that will be useful for my future career, wherever that may be. I’ve been able to work on my presentation skills, had NX and Excel training, as well as being exposed to factory safety. The experience in the world of work, working in a predominantly male dominated environment and being able to hold my own in meetings and discussions is also all very valuable experience. When I first started I wish I’d done more public speaking, it was uncomfortable speaking out during a big meeting and it took my a while to build my confidence. At first it felt like I shouldn’t have put myself through this, but being confident in the workplace is crucial to be taken seriously and to be able to contribute your ideas to the team.

There is no typical day for me, in some teams I have been given my own separate project to work on and in others I have been assisting them and working on the live projects and machines; personally, I prefer this.

Training for my future

JCB also have a graduate/undergraduate support system called Global Learning who support all of us with any concerns or thoughts we might have. I found this really useful when deciding which teams to join, to get the most out of my placement here. In terms of my support from BU I have had a couple visits from my academic advisors throughout the year as well as having regular contact over teams, which makes it easy if I have any questions.

I would definitely recommend a year in industry to everyone. Whether it’s a good or bad experience you are moving forward and making decisions that shall help you determine what you want to do. Personally, I think that with a placement you will have far greater chance of employment in the future and a much greater understanding of your own strengths and weaknesses and it will help you figure out what it is you actually want to do.

Once I graduate there are job opportunities for me at JCB, which is something I really appreciate! I’ve still got my final year head of me so I haven’t decided on my future yet, but I’m happy to know that I will have options available to me, which I wouldn’t have had without my placement.

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