Aston University student excels at Renault UK placement despite COVID-19 challenges
Aston University BSc (Hons) Psychology and Business student Rhian Gibson has been receiving high praise at her placement at Renault UK.
Placement year at Renault UK
Rhian Gibson is a third year BSc (Hons) Psychology and Business student working as a Fleet and Conversions Assistant for international car manufacturer Renault for her integrated placement year. Renault manufacture and sell private and commercial vehicles. Renault are the fourth largest car manufacturer in the world, with five worldwide brand names.
As a Fleet and Conversions Assistant, Rhian supports the National Conversions Manager with a variety of key tasks and responsibilities. The conversions team deal with the vehicles that have been adapted to suit consumer’s needs. In 2020, Renault had around 40 accredited converters in the UK.
The role requires the ability to multi-task and possess excellent communication skills, as there is a need to communicate with internal and external customers. Rhian is also responsible for updating the website and producing marketing materials.
Working as part of a two-person team, Rhian has been given the opportunity to take on significant responsibilities. One of Rhian’s main achievements has been the delivery of a major survey of Renault’s converters. The survey enabled Renault to gain feedback on services from both internal and external customers, which is something they had not been able to do before. With a 71% response rate (from converters that are responsible for around 35,000 vehicles), Rhian was able to establish action points that Renault can implement to improve their services. Rhian’s manager commented that the findings from the survey represented “a great learning curve for us.”
Rhian felt comfortable taking on this project having studied a statistics module on the Psychology element of her course prior to her placement.
Renault have been delighted with the contribution that Rhian has made to their conversions department, with her manager commenting that Rhian has “been highly rated as a result of the work and contribution she has made.”
National Conversions Manager Mark Waite highlighted that the conversions department is a complex division of the business and can be extremely challenging. He commented that “Rhian successfully rose to the challenges the department presented and fully immersed herself into her role, managing to gain the trust and confidence from Renault’s dealer network.”
Undertaking a placement during COVID-19
As well as her many achievements, Rhian’s placement has also presented challenges, especially undertaking her placement during a global pandemic. The unprecedented times meant that Rhian spent the majority of her placement working from home and was only able to work in her team’s office for three weeks.
Rhian adapted to the new way of working by communicating regularly with her line manager. The change in the working environment and with her placement being slightly shortened, due to COVID, only motivated Rhian to contribute as much as she could to Renault in the time she had working for them.
The benefits of doing a work placement?
Rhian’s placement provided her with opportunities to develop her time-management skill and her confidence. Reflecting on what she had gain from her placement Rhian says: “To have confidence in myself and to be able to network and build key relationships within a company is very important.”
Renault see the value of recruiting placement students like Rhian. Mark Waite explains: “It is a really important part of our business and helps us identify future talent who we can appoint to the business.”
Rhian has indicated a keen interest in applying to Renault UK as part of their graduate scheme. There have already been discussions with Mark Waite commenting that, “If Rhian wanted to identify a career within Renault UK we would certainly welcome that based on the performance of her placement.”
Advice for future placement students
So, would Rhian recommend a placement year to other Aston University students?
Yes I would. I had a great placement experience and learnt a lot by contributing to the department’s activities and by having significant amounts of responsibility. My experience enabled me to gain many new skills and forge new relationships.
Even the process of applying for placements is useful as it provides you with the experience of applying for roles and the steps involved in the application process, advises Rhian.
Don’t be scared to apply, and to apply to as many placements as you can. Make sure you get feedback from any rejections so you can learn from them.