Sophie Harris


14 Jan Sophie Harris

Job title: Maintenance Co-ordinator
Type of position: Placement
Company: General Motors Manufacturing Luton
Degree: Mechanical Engineering

Why I loved it:

“I had specific tasks to do on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. On a daily basis I was the throughput improvement process co-ordinator which means I was responsible for data capture, updating charts and boards and analysis of information.”On a weekly basis I did minor faults tracking which basically recorded anything that went wrong and how long it took to fix. This was done in order to identify specific problems and resolve them, meaning we could improve the system which was in use. I changed the way I approached minor faults tracking in order to make the most of the data & made it a lot simpler and effective.”

My best experience/greatest achievement:

“I was also heavily involved in predictive maintenance. This was the most ‘hands on’ part of my job. I looked at chain wear analysis, vibration analysis, thermo graphics, and oil analysis. Predictive maintenance is in place to try and predict what may become a problem in the future and to stop something going wrong before it happens. You have to work directly on the equipment, such as conveyors; this involves getting special work permits and training because it’s potentially dangerous. Everything you do is important to the plant.”

What I learned:

“Whilst on placement I received loads of training. At first you might not think it’s a great thing, however it is great to put on your CV when you are looking for a job in the future. For example, I had taken a two day training course to become a Red x apprentice which was all about different approaches to problem solving. It’s recognised worldwide and therefore looks great on a CV so it will help you after you’ve left the placement (not just while you’re on it). I got so much out of my placement. I have a much improved practical knowledge by having done things such as putting a regulator back together and working with parts from a conveyor; I even got to re-program a robot whilst working on the nightshift for a week.”

About my experience/Tips for students:

“Being on placement allows you to get involved with whatever you are interested in. If there is a project you particularly want to be involved in you can. Also there wasn’t one person I knew at work who wouldn’t have the time to sit down and explain something to me if I asked them to. It gives you confidence by speaking to people you don’t know and small things such as using a radio. One of the most important things is that you are trusted by your manager to get on with your job and you don’t feel like you are being constantly checked up on. I would advise anyone to do a placement year – I almost didn’t do one and I’m so glad that I did! I know how hard the courses at university can be because I did one myself but not having to stay up all night working on assignments/do exams was really enjoyable. There were 86 students taking a placement with General Motors, 14 of them worked with me in the Luton plant and about 50 of them worked down the road in the head office, so you never felt like you were on your own.  You can choose to work overtime and weekends and get paid well for doing so, but if you don’t want to then you really don’t have to. There is nothing you can do on a placement that will make you a worse student or a worse applicant for a future job – it’s only ever going to make you better and more employable!”