1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
My role, Laboratory Technician, includes the testing and documentation at the R&D phase of medical device projects in 3M. This is for inhalation products and due to being R&D, much of the work I do is different and keeps me busy. I will often work with other departments in order to complete projects, this is required as there are many aspects to a medical device to be covered. A usual day working in this position may include: - Investigations - Test Protocols / Reports - New Product Specifications - Testing (as per documentation) - Compliance (working to maintain the standards set)
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
Over my time here I have learnt how to use various pieces of equipment and new processes. Examples of equipment are bespoke testing apparatus that are very product specific, tensile testers and a programmable metrology system. Learning to use the equipment (above) has given me transferable skills as the knowledge from the equipment that I am trained on can be used elsewhere. Other skills are largely around documentation and quality. Ensuring that documents are completed correctly and written in a clear and concise manner means that they are clear and easy to follow. This ties in with quality as the documents written should enable others to follow them without unplanned deviations and mistakes. Skills in this area will aid me in the future no matter where I am. I have learnt a lot on Standards during my time here and how products etc. must meet the standard given. This helps to ensure any test method written complies with the relevant standard.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
Working on this programme has been great as the work itself has been a good and interesting learning curve as well as the enjoyment of working in a team which is formed with people who are each quite individual in terms of knowledge, qualifications and personalities. When I arrived here I assumed it would be a lot like previous jobs I have held which have been a lot less understanding of myself as an individual. So far it is going really well so it is a pleasure to come in every day.
4. How valued do you feel by 3M UK?
3M have given me a great opportunity and I know that I am valued in the team. Any training is given which is necessary and other departments can be great for making me feel like they care by giving me help and experience.
One of the negatives for this is the fact that there hasn't been any warning as to what will occur in the coming months at the end of the level 3 apprenticeship. I understand that there are different options that the company has (and has apparently agreed to) but I am yet to have a clear and written decision which has left me feeling slightly uncertain. This shouldn't be taken too heavily as it seems the apprentices are wanted and valued here as we contribute to each team we are in.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
I have had issues with the college which provided my training for the NVQ assessments. They did sort this out however it has meant that I've been bombarded with quite a lot of work to do in a reasonably short period of time. The organisation and structure of a programme tends to be purely down to the training provider and not the company, this is something the company has been concerned about with me and so they have had communications to prompt the college into sorting out the lack of training.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
During the first year we had a problem with lack of teaching staff as there were staff leaving the provider. Over this year we struggled slightly as they didn't seem to worry too much about sorting it out.
The next year though there were new staff that were employed who were very happy to help and cared about the fact that we weren't the usual students and we had additional activities other than learning.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
In terms of my employer, I am receiving all my support mainly from my supervisor who helps me out a lot in building up my level of competence and abilities. If things are getting tough then I know that I can relay that onto them so that they are aware of what I am struggling with and how I can overcome this. Most support needed throughout the apprenticeship is support when you are trying to build up to the level of ability that is required to do the job with no assistance.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
My salary meets my costs however it seems to be unable to go up until there are advancements in either age or the level of apprenticeship. As an apprentice however, 3M do pay well compared to others.
From being here for the time I have I can say that the level 4 to 5 apprenticeships are paid a very nice wage and this is something a level 3 can progress into for me.
If you are looking then I would recommend the apprenticeship on the wage it offers as it is fair and will be considerably better once you move up in the business in terms of the level of apprenticeship you are on.
On my salary I am able to run a car that is quite old however its nice to have the ability to be able to commute.
The site I work on allows for flexi time so if I still had to get a bus it would work great anyway.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
There are a lot things that we can do that are mainly staff organised which are nice such as sports and the 3M events vary from the typical Christmas party to other things on special occasions. 3M employees do voluntary work however we cannot do that as apprentices.
It has opened up a few things to keep me busy and I wouldn't expect too much to go on since there isn't that much time between work and your own personal life to spend here.
9. Would you recommend 3M UK to a friend?
3M is a great place to start building a career in the sector and you can learn a lot by being there. The people who work on my site are nice and friendly and would help if you asked. The company likes people to expand their knowledge and constantly build up the level of quality on site as it benefits us all.
They can also experience the benefits of flexi time where you just have to make sure you do your hours, this means that you never have to stress about the fact that you could be late if for example you slept through your alarm! (or traffic)
Overall, whilst working here I can say that it is a good place to maintain a low level of stress and this really is worth it as it makes life so much nicer.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to 3M UK?
Show that you're a competent person who values what the company does. There are things such as compliance and attention to detail which show that you are an individual that has potential here as tasks must be done to the book and properly.
I would also recommend showing that you have a great work ethic which shows that they can use with a person like you!
Make sure there has been plenty of research done on the job and company as this will show them (and you) that you wish to be a part of the company.
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