The industrial placement scheme at L'Oreal equips you with fantastic skills and can be very rewarding, however, the culture I found quite tricky to adapt to. It is very unique in the way the company works; for such a huge company, you would expect to have processes and procedures in place, however, the company lacks this and this can be quite frustrating. Interns are given a lot of responsibility right from the word go and I found this quite daunting - especially for the first few months where I found that a mentor or "buddy" system would have been really helpful.
By my immediate team, they always made an effort to say thank you for my work, But, in such a fast-paced environment, many things I did were simply overlooked and I did not receive recognition for doing things which were done as initiative. In the wider work environment, interns were regarded with less respect and I did not feel I was always taken seriously as I was just "just an intern".
At the start of my placement, I really struggled with stress and I did not feel that my team were particularly supportive. Because everyone was always so busy, it was easy for the team to not take the time to check that I was ok. It was only when I raised the issue with the HR team that I received support from my team. As mentioned before, I think L'Oreal would really benefit from having a mentor/buddy system for interns and grads as I definitely would have made use of that and I have heard that other companies do offer this service.
I was very busy and think that this was common with other interns too. Definitely don't expect to work 9-5 days. I rarely took no more than 20 minutes for lunch and got the feeling that taking a "proper" lunch break was frowned upon so felt uncomfortable doing so. The workload is very intense but I think this can differ greatly from role to role and depending on what division you are allocated to.
I requested to be given more responsibility as I felt as though I was not contributing anything particularly significant to the business. But once I asked, I was involved in creating press, TV adverts and running events which was more interesting. There are certain intern tasks that we were all expected to do such as clearing cupboards, ordering in products, printing and updating documents which I found quite menial. I found this a little insulting as I felt that I had worked really hard to get on to the industrial placement scheme and that I deserved to be given more responsibility than doing jobs that somebody unqualified could do.
Although I found my placement year quite challenging, these challenges turned into positives as I have become more resilient, flexible, more reactive to change and have improved my communication skills. This has been my biggest take-out of my year at L'Oreal: being able to deal with whatever situation is thrown at me in a calm and mature manner. I am very grateful for having had this experience as I believe I have become a more rounded person and have made some fantastic friends.
L'Oreal has a good atmosphere - everyone is very young (I think the average age of the office is around 28/30) so everyone is very energetic and there are lots of social events organised by the divisions etc. I would say that "work hard, play hard" is very true of the atmosphere. However, around the times of the year when we have important visits from our international teams, the teams do get very stressed and you can sense a change of mood.
The actual organisation of the internship was very well organised - a social was organised for us prior to joining L'Oreal where we were able to meet with the current interns to find out a little bit more about the team you would be working in and the role. The interns have a committee and they were great and organised lots of interesting and exciting events for us. It was great to have a mid-year and end-of-year review as well, organised by HR to review objectives.
This is one thing that was really disappointing about the placement. I felt as an intern that I was not really invested in. All new permanent staff are sent to "metier", where they learn about their category i.e. makeup, haircare, skincare. Interns do not get to go on this and it means that you miss out on a base understanding of whatever category you work on. Additionally, interns are not invited to company events such as Team Away Days and conferences where new launch details are shared. I found this a real shame.
I am really happy to have completed a work placement at L'Oreal as such as reputable and highly regarded organisation but I would not like to go and work for them again. I think that I would be much better suited to a less hierarchical organisation where I could be more creative in a marketing role. It is also very difficult, if you want to, to get onto the Management Trainee scheme as there are very few places and the company cannot then promise you a full-time job even if you do an internship and the Grad scheme.
Yes - we were lucky to have a fantastic social sec, elected by the interns, who organised lots of socials with free food and drinks etc. Within the divisions, there are also lots of team events and drinks so the social side of the company is one of its big selling points. Everyone goes to the pub after work on a Friday which means you make really great friends at L'Oreal.
The cost of living anywhere in London is expensive. However, it is helped by the fact that the company do run lots of subsidised events which takes the pressure off you financially if you want to go out. My rent was £700 a month which meant that each month, half of my pay was going straight on to rent which meant that I still felt like I was living as a student, despite getting paid. Travel is also expensive and would recommend getting a month's travelcard for ~£100 as will save on Oyster fares.
Nightlife in Hammersmith is fairly non-existent in terms of clubs, however there are lots of lovely pubs which do good food and drinks. This did not really matter though because everything was just a short journey on a tube or a bus. We often went out in Putney or Kensington area, both easily accessible by public transport. Hammersmith is not a particularly lively area but I did not feel that this made my placement any better/worse.
I think there was a netball team and a football team but these were never explicitly advertised to us. This is something that L'Oreal could definitely improve on - organising more non-work related activities to allow members of different divisions to socialise and meet more easily. It would have been nice to have the option to join a club of some sort, even if just for a bit of recreational sport.