A placement year in the fast lane
A University of Northampton student has put her future career firmly on the right track with a placement at global motorsport giants Mercedes Benz.
Second year Human Resource Management student, Amy Biggs, will begin a 13-month placement in August within the HR Department of Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains (AMG HPP).
With its headquarters based in Brixworth, Northamptonshire, Mercedes AMG HPP is responsible for the design, manufacture and testing of Formula 1 Power Units for Mercedes AMG Petronas, Sahara Force India and Williams Martini Racing.
The chance to work with an F1 championship-winning team would be many young petrol heads’ dream – but as Amy admits, she’s never been a huge fan of motorsport.
She added: “I’ve got to be completely honest, I’m not massively into F1. I was more interested in the actual placement itself. HR is HR – it barely changes from industry to industry, you still have to pay people, record sickness, absences and so on. So for me, this placement was more about gaining real-life experience. Of course, working at such a well-known organisation such as Mercedes will be amazing and I am so excited.
“During my interview the current HR placement student took me around the premises and explained that she too was not a massive fan of F1. However, knowing that I will receive bonuses based on F1 results makes me slightly more of a fan… so I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for the race results.”
While Amy will not be dealing with the ‘nuts and bolts’ side of the business directly, she is relishing the challenge of learning her craft in the HR team for a major corporate brand.
Amy said: “I will be working within the compensation & benefits team within the HR department – focusing on elements of HR such as payroll, bonuses, and other incentives to enhance employee performance. I will also gain an insight into other general HR duties, such as absence and sickness record keeping, and writing up reports.”
The process of applying for student placements can be a long and mentally exhausting process – but when applying at Mercedes AMG HPP the process was nearly as fast as one of Lewis Hamilton’s practice laps.
Amy said: “I found the vacancy on RateMyPlacement, which then took me to the Mercedes AMG HPP website. Within a few weeks of submitting an application form, I received a phone call inviting me to an interview. I had two days to ready myself and prepare a presentation about the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which was stressful.
“On the day, I was interviewed by my potential manager and the current HR placement student that I would replace. I got one-on-one time with the placement student before I got to meet the manager, which put me at ease. I was really nervous but managed to, in my opinion, make a good first impression.
“The interview itself combined general questions and situational-based questions, an Excel test with a mini mock report on its results – which I was very nervous about! Luckily I managed to do it within half the time I was given. I must have made an impression because two days later I was offered the placement, and the rest is history.”
Although the application process seemed to go fairly smoothly, this was not her first attempt at bagging a placement – and Amy credits Senior Lecturers in Human Resource Management, Hugh Davenport and Jane Partridge, for coaching her through the process.
Amy added: “I had a few assessment centres and interviews for other placements beforehand in which my lecturers were hugely supportive. The support I was given throughout this past year at university definitely helped me secure this placement. Hugh and Jane, in particular, were hugely supportive throughout my placement search, and I owe my placement to them through the advice and support I was given.”
A 500-strong company, Mercedes AMG HPP, recruits several students on placements each year. As Amy prepares for her August start, the company has gone the extra mile to settle her in.
She added: “I am in regular contact with my future manager, and the student officer who organises the placements. I have been given the contact details of over 20 other placement students who will be joining – mostly engineers, and two others within the HR team with me.
“One of the engineer students made a Facebook Group with everyone in, so we have all spoken on there. Mercedes has also organised a day in July where all students will meet at Mercedes, and have a bit of an introduction where we all get to meet each other and ask any questions.
“I think this is fantastic, more importantly for all the other students because every other student, except me, will be moving and needs accommodation. Mercedes has gone the extra mile to put us all into contact with each other. Its placement programme seems really organised, structured and well thought-out, so I’m excited to work there.”
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