The Pounds 800 experience

March 20, 1998

The Shell Technology Enterprise Programme places undergraduates in small and medium-sized companies for eight weeks during the summer vacation. Last summer Donald Malcolm, managing director of Autosonics Ltd, Alloa, employed Jamie MacSween, who is in his penultimate year at Strathclyde, studying for a masters in product design engineering. Autosonics is a five-man company. Near the beginning of Jamie's placement Pounds 800 worth of prototypes he was responsible for were mistaken for rubbish. Jamie and his boss got to know each a lot other better over a day at the rubbish tip.

Mr Malcolm says: "In such a small company one extra person has a big impact. We had to find Jamie a computer and space. We had students before to do market research and that didn't work - they were not working full-time and they weren't disciplined. But Jamie's contribution to the company was invaluable because he worked intensively on communicating between us and the subcontractors. We extended the placement to 15 weeks and now he works for us one day a week."

Jamie says: "If I had only stayed the six weeks originally planned I would not have seen the fulfilment of my work. What I learnt about how a small business operates is directly useful to this year's university work."

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