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Like ducks to water: work placement students on joining the Mayden family

work placement

Since starting our work placements with Mayden in February, we’ve taken to the company’s way of working like ducks to water. Initially, it was hard to get our heads around it all since neither of us had stepped foot before in a healthcare tech setting, a business development role, or a company quite like this one!

We’re third year undergraduate students on the Business BSc course at the University of Bath. For our placement at Mayden, we joined the Market Discovery team helping to research potential future market opportunities and evaluate various markets. Both of us have an interest in business from a consumer psychology and business management perspective, so we were excited to get the opportunity to apply this knowledge in a business development placement with Mayden.

Mayden is a fast growing healthcare technology business in Bath that has a flat structure where teams manage themselves without employee hierarchies. Having worked for more traditionally hierarchical companies in our previous placements, we were keen to see what it would be like to join a company taking a different approach. Little did we know that our placement with Mayden would take us to a flip-side that was so different and into the wonderful world of Agile working and self management. Here, we’ll share some observations on our experience and how Mayden’s culture and way of working has made it so different.

Placement student

Flat structure

When researching Mayden in preparation for our interviews, the idea of working within a flat management structure was something we’d never thought about or even knew existed. This left us feeling nervous about what to expect and how it would shape our placement, leaving us with questions like: Who will be our line manager? Who leads the company? Who’s going to tell me what to do or not do? Little did we know that this unique culture would prove to be such a motivating and rewarding working environment for us.

An agile approach

Another new prospect for us was the Agile approach and working in scrum teams and sprints. Compared to traditional work structures that normally use a ‘waterfall’ progression approach to projects, in Agile environments teams work in small teams and review work at each mini stage, known as a sprint, and adjust work for the next iteration. We’ve found this way of working has been a great way to keep tasks on track and keep moving work forward as a team. By having milestones and mini deadlines, our self-managed work is held accountable to the team and we can set ourselves realistic goals to achieve within timeframes. This has been a key element keeping us motivated in our placement.

No blame culture

Being British, we are experts at saying ‘sorry’. Sorry is a word which has become embedded in working and day-to-day culture for many of us, which has probably become as common as a full-stop. However, at Mayden, a culture of no blame and that there are ‘no silly questions’ has created an open working environment.This understanding that we are all human and we make mistakes is one of the simplest but most powerful values at Mayden and has allowed us to push boundaries, create a space where we are heard and ultimately have the confidence to take that next step in our work and our careers. Sorry, not sorry!

Team-centric

Teamwork is at the heart of Mayden and coming into such a team-centric organisation has been great for us. From day one, we were welcomed by everyone we met (virtually) and even from such an early stage, we really felt like we were part of the #MaydenFamily. As we don’t have a line manager, daily team meetings – also known as ‘stand-ups’ – are key to keeping us all on track, whilst being able to check in with each other.

Illustration of three hands on cogs

Working in Covid times

To put it lightly, it has been strange starting a placement in the midst of a global pandemic, working for a new organisation and only being able to meet our colleagues virtually. We found that Mayden’s team-centric workplace has been especially important while we’re all working from home during the pandemic. Flexibility and variety are other key components which have enabled us to settle in and work to our best abilities from home.

Flexibility

Mayden offers people flexibility with their working hours, as long as they complete their contracted hours each week and work core hours (10-4). Being able to choose our start and finish times was a breath of fresh air after having to work 9-5 in previous placements. Starting and finishing earlier made a big difference to our energy levels and our resulting motivation and productivity; we are both early birds and are most productive in the mornings.

Variety

Variety is truly the spice of life at Mayden. We’ve been able to get involved with as many working groups as we would like or could fit in, whilst still getting our main work done. We joined working groups relevant to our interests and brought a unique uni-student insight and perspective to those groups – a win-win for us and the company. For example, we got involved in the ‘Innovation Differentiator’ working group where we’ve been able to bring our uni course learning to the discussions. This would be a rare opportunity in more traditional and hierarchical organisations, but has offered us an invaluable and well-rounded placement experience.

Our previous placements

Emily

I completed my first placement at an innovative internet services company that specialises in providing cybercrime disruption services across a range of industries. This was my first real experience of a corporate job, so when I started I wasn’t sure what to expect. It quickly became clear that following all instructions from my superiors and paying clear attention to detail were most important, as well as working effectively within my team to get the work done. We followed a daily priority list, which, for me, was very helpful being new to the company and the role.

Throughout this placement, I learned more and more about the company and enjoyed working on highly important and complex tasks, and, being someone who thrives in an analytical environment, I loved following the daily priority list and having the peace of mind that my work was on the right track. Some tasks became very routine, so it got easier as I became more experienced. In addition, I realised the importance of hierarchy and my fixed role meant there were few opportunities for me to develop and get exposure to other areas of the business. However, the completion of these routine tasks allowed me to easily measure my progress and success in this role.

Lottie

In my first placement, I worked as an intern at a very large professional services firm, assisting with their annual events to internal employees and external delegates. This was my first time working 9-5 in a fast-paced corporate environment and took a while to settle into the speed of things. Once I got the hang of what was required of me and the processes of my role, I was able to settle in more and gain confidence in my abilities. After the first few months, it was clear where I stood in the company. This sense of hierarchy and prioritisation of work rather than just deadlines was new to me and interesting to learn from the perspective of an intern. Apart from a few random jobs I was given, I enjoyed having routine tasks to complete in the build up to events, alongside work done during the actual event and the post-event comms and analysis. This opportunity to see things from start to finish is one which I grew to love and would later look forward to doing during my time at Mayden.

It goes without saying that working for such a successful international firm does have its perks; high-budget Christmas parties, lunches out, networking and opportunities to go abroad to assist with an event onsite were just a few of the amazing experiences I was able to have whilst on my first placement. These moments were surreal on many occasions and made some of the stresses of my job feel much more worthwhile.

Moving forward

With our placement at Mayden almost over, we feel like we have made a big impact and we look forward to the final few weeks ahead. Being given this unique opportunity to work in such a rapidly growing, flat-structured company has raised our expectations about the future of innovative workplaces and has ultimately taught us that it’s less about being impressive, and more about making an imprint.

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