Solwise, Entertaining the work experience kid!

Last week we had Alex from Beverley Grammar School join us, at Solwise, for 5 days. Alex is in year 10 and it seems the majority of students in the area tend to do their work experience around this sort of age.  We have had students in from a couple of different schools over the years so we were happy to give it another go this year. I must disclose that Alex is my son and he has known a lot of the Solwise staff since he was born however we have a few new people that he had never met so that proved useful with him having to develop skills with new ‘colleagues’. On speaking with Lee Hamshaw, at Beverley Grammar, it was suggested it was ok for him to work where I do so long as he was working with other people and not directly with me. There is always the worry that if you know the student in advance that they may play on this however in this case Alex was respectful of my workplace and very respectful of my colleagues.

The test printThe first problem you have when you decide to accept a work experience student is what on earth are you going to do with them?? We’ve all been there, it can be a pain entertaining a kid that is not interested in what your company does and you can end up giving them dull jobs, like scanning and photocopying, just to keep them busy.  Our feeling at Solwise is that if you are going to take a student for a few days it is best for them, and certainly more interesting for you, to be prepared and to keep it in line with their interests. With this in mind we chatted with Alex before he came to us and came up with an engineering and manufacturing project for him using our 3d printer. He had to install the software, on his laptop, prior to his visit to us and learn the basics so that he could hit the ground running on the Monday morning. He brought his own laptop him which saved us the concerns of the work experience student accessing our database and network and all the problems that can cause with GDPR etc.  On his arrival he was shown his desk for the week and told to set up his laptop with a big screen and then get on with setting up the new 3d printer. Part of this experience meant he had to interact with new people about having the right cables and getting the right bits and pieces to make it all work.  He did a test print to make sure all worked fine. 

Working on the prototypeThroughout the week he took our MD’s hand-drawn design and converted that in the software so that it could be 3d printed. This involved some failed test prints where some parts didn’t fit but this was a good learning experience of talking with the designer to see what they want, amending the design and a lot of problem solving.  Other colleagues were interested in what Alex was doing so there was input from them too and often there would be 3 or 4 people having an input in the rights and wrongs of the design, this showed Alex about collaboration with colleagues and how good it can be to get other people’s advice and opinions on things. This project covered his Engineering and Maths lessons; he even learnt some new maths equations!

Overall, from an employer point of view, it was great to have a student that was engaged with their work experience and it really was a good idea to discuss with Alex, before he came to us, his interests and what he was hoping to gain from the experience. Alex even asked if he could leave school and come to work!  From a parent point of view it was actually nice to see Alex grow throughout the week, the respect for his new colleagues and his ability to see their point of view was a good learning experience for him – as we all know, teenagers do know it all!