To help implement WCM into a factory based site
My 12 month placement at Unilever definitely lived up to its expectations - lots of responsibility, great people, great brands, and a huge learning curve! I worked with a wide variety of people from directors to shop floor workers, managing my own team and running my own projects from cradle to grave. The level of exposure Unilever gives you during a placement year is definitely worth investing your time in.
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I was definitely considered part of the team, both those senior to me and my peers approached me on many of occasions to seek information and help with projects which not only felt great, but showed their belief in my capability to contribute to the team.
Unilever has a great system where you have 3 'mentors' throughout your placement. These consist of, a buddy (another student, usually on the graduate scheme) who can help you with all the 'silly' and information questions you might want to ask (where to go out, where is nice to live, where should you avoid, what is the normal procedure for XYZ etc). Secondly you have a contact manager who helps ensure you are getting from the placement scheme what you expect to get from it, and who you can talk to about your mid year and end of year reviews, what you need to aim towards and what you can do to develop yourself. Finally, you have a manager who provides you with your day to day tasks in your role. All three of these mentors/supervisors/managers were great people, all very friendly, approachable and did their best to help you out when you needed it. This was especially beneficial when you had to make decisions in your role of responsibility, they always had your back if it didn't quite go to plan and helped offer advice. After all, you can definitely test the water with your style of management and how you want to be perceived in a business during your placement
90% of the time I was incredibly busy, managing multiple projects at the same time. This was made up of a few large projects and deliverables throughout the year, with ongoing smaller day to day activities to get done. None of which were mundane tasks, you were responsible for the results of every project and everyone in the teams I worked in got their hands dirty to get things done. So your busy schedule was never filled up with the jobs other people may have not wanted to do like some companies may have you doing on a placement/work experience.
Before my placement I was expecting a lot of responsibility throughout, however this may have been the one area I underestimated during my placement. Which was brilliant! I was put in charge of projects with a lot of capital behind them, budgets, big influential decisions to be made and had a large impact in how the business operates. Not only this but I had the opportunity to manage others for a few months which was a great eyeopener and really helped build my management skills further.
They have definitely helped improve further my work ethic at university. Also, to be fast tracked onto the Unilever Future Leaders Programme is also an extra benefit when going into final year and not needing to apply for jobs and have assessment centres etc.
The atmosphere was professional but also casual. Nobody in the factory offices wore suits/shirts/ties, it was a very informal dress code. This also applies to the offices elsewhere around the UK other than head office, but even then the dress code is rather casual. Everyone is very friendly and approachable, would help out and answer questions whenever you needed support and overall it was very good.
Good on boarding prior to the placement, great information from graduates and current placement students about locations, where to live, how to get to work, all the outside of work topics etc. Great support throughout, great exposure & level of learning throughout.
The mid and end of year placements also helped to structure the year. Setting goals and being able to easily see where you are against these is a great way to keep pushing yourself to achieve more.
As previously mentioned, a fast-track onto the graduate scheme if you are successful during your placement year is definitely worth it!
You have a mid-year and end of year review with your manager, which you will be rated on. Depending on your rating directly impacts the amount of bonus you get at the end of the year, and also impacts the likelihood of being fast-tracked onto the graduate scheme. It goes without saying that the higher you are ranked the more likely you are to be fast-tracked against your peers in your function.
It works similar on the Unilever Future Leaders Programme, however as you move into a different role in your function every 6-8 months, you get a % pay increase each time you move. Which will hopefully result in an attractive wage after a couple of years, which is when you will enter a management role. Not to mention just the wage, but also the attractiveness of this scheme for its exposure, experience & promotion, with great people and great brands!
Although there were only a few other placement students at the same location as me, there were many other apprentices, graduates and ex-graduates and employees who organised activities you could always get involved in. I played football on nights during the week, went go-karting, played mini-golf and had nights out which helped to keep you busy in evenings/weekends, especially when moving to a new city you have no prior knowledge of, and also without knowing anyone!
Being based in Liverpool rather than London like other placement students meant the same wage but a higher standard of living. Rent is much cheaper, social events are much cheaper and overall a very good experience!
The rent will probably be 2/3 of the price of London, or the same for a very nice apartment in comparison to a house share in a reasonable london property.
The cost of transport from the centre of liverpool to the Wirral was around £60-70 on the train for an unlimited use pass. However as you can work from home not everybody bought these and just paid for the individual days instead. To drive through the tunnel it was around £2 each way if I remember correctly. You can find out the price online on Merseyrail if you are based here.
Liverpool is a great city!
As previously mentioned - football, mini-golf, go-karting, nights out, plenty of restaurants etc