Dan – YINI student New

After completing his A-levels, Dan took up a Year in Industry (YINI) placement in 2012 with DSTL (Defence Science & Technology Laboratory) where he created a searching tool and database  to provide clear technical information for the company.

Check out what he said about his experience below and see if you have got what it takes to do a YINI placement next.

Which post-16 qualifications did you study?

I studied Maths, Physics and Design Technology – Resistant Materials for A-level at Farnborough Sixth Form College. I also did AS levels in English Literature and Electronics. I took English in the first year at college, thinking it would complement my love of books. I knew by the end of the year it wasn’t what I wanted to study to a deep level, so I dropped it and took up Electronics instead.

What motivated you to apply for a placement?

My parents knew it would be a good idea for me to get some industry experience and I really liked the idea of taking a gap year to test some of my skills in the real world. Put those two things together and you’ve got a Year in Industry placement!

What did your typical day whilst on your placement involve?

I would get the bus in from the train station for about ten to 9. I’d then set myself up on the PC and sort out my emails. I’d slip into a routine of doing about 1-2 hours lab work and 1-2 hours report writing periodically with coffee, tea and lunch breaks in-between. I spent almost all my time with colleagues, but the people I spent time with in the lab were different to those I shared an office with.

What were you most proud of during your placement?

I’m proud of my overall success. I had a fantastic time and I really miss working there. To answer the question properly though, I’m most proud of how I integrated into the team with the help of my colleagues and worked as part of the team as if I’d been there all along. Moving away from home was a bit of a challenge but worth the accomplishment!

What was the best and worst thing about the experience?

The best thing was to be in an environment where everyone is friendly and you can ask questions about something you might be confused about without any shame. There really wasn’t anything bad about my placement to be honest. The worst thing was probably having to get up early, but 8am isn’t really early is it?

Did your experiences whilst on your placement change your career ambitions?

Not really, I always wanted to be in electronics so nothing has changed apart from I’ve now got a renewed enthusiasm for it. Plus a sponsorship from DSTL means I’d be pretty stupid to pass up going back there to work in the summers doing exactly what I loved doing all year!

What made you decide to go on to study at university?

I always thought I would need to have a degree to get a decent job in engineering. That’s not entirely true, I could have tried get a low level job at a company like DSTL and worked my way up to the graduate level, but not only does going to study expand my knowledge base, I also get the opportunity to experience University. I also plan to become a chartered engineer so the course helps with that a lot.

What skills will you take from your placement into university?

A lot of my communication skills were developed at work, but the most important thing I’ve taken from the placement in terms of skills is the ability to write a professional working paper, report or lab document. That’s going to be very important for my coursework and lab assignments at Uni.

If you could pass on some advice to future students who are given similar opportunities for work placements what would you say to them?

Go for it! It’s an unmissable opportunity to develop yourself and having a years’ worth of experience under your belt you’ll be way ahead of the competition when it comes to job hunting on the other side of Uni. In my experience, everyone who works as part of the team you’ll join knows what to expect as well, so they’ll be really welcoming and make life easy for you in the first few weeks.

What do you like to do in your free time when you are not working or studying?

I’m a qualified gamer, so lots of PC games and films. I also did a bit of cycling around Kent because it is the Garden of England. I also did a LUMEN Maths course to keep my a-level maths skills fresh.

And finally…looking back over the choices you have made and the opportunities that have been available to you so far regarding your education, would you have done anything differently?

I don’t think so. It’s an odd answer because I’m supposed to come up with something. But because of how smoothly I was integrated into the team, how I did my project and how I moved away from home to live how I wanted, it was all just great.


To find out more about the Year in Industry scheme run by the Engineering & Development Trust (EDT) please click here.