Working closely with management to prioritise business goals and information needs
Interpreting a project and the client’s requirements and evaluating all the options to identify potential solutions
Examining existing business models and flows of data, discussing findings with the client, and evaluating system specifications for business requirements
The experience I had on placement has been invaluable. It’s was challenging at times, there is a lot expected from you as a placement student, but without the challenges you don’t get the opportunity to develop and grow. I also found the work incredibly engaging. Unilever is a great company to work for and I would highly recommend applying. Everyone is super friendly and supportive, and I doubt there are many companies where you’ll be given the same level of responsibility and experience.
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My colleagues were extremely welcoming when I first joined the company. I felt like my inputs were always valued and any criticism I received was always constructive and for my own benefit.When my colleagues were happy with the work I was doing they did not hesitate to tell me. One tip: feedback isn't always just given to you. This isn't intentional, people forget! If this is the case make sure you ask for it on a regular basis, it's the only indication of where your performance stands.
I have a call set up with my manager once a week which lasts 45 minutes, to discuss how I'm getting on, the progress that I'm making with my work, and any concerns that I have about my workload, what interests me and what projects I'd like to have a go at. She is very kind and understanding and if I have any comments or worries throughout the rest of the week then she is always available if I need her. I also have fortnightly 'general' catch ups with my supervisor and buddy, and twice weekly catch ups with my supervisor to discuss a specific project's progress, they are both also available if I need any extra support throughout the week.
Due to the project work being highly varied, this means that each week is extremely varied. Some days or weeks I could be in back to back meetings all week, whilst others I could not have a single meeting. With the ability to work from home, it makes concentrating a lot easier, for example, if you had a lot of work to get through and didn't want any distractions from people popping up at your desk, then you could work from home to focus on the work in hand. Like any job, the amount of work that you do depends on how much you are willing to get stuck in. I got stuck into everything I possibly could, which means I was quite busy a lot of the time!
Huge amounts of responsibility, but not too much that I couldn't handle. I had full introductions to all of the projects that I was the lead on and I never felt like I didn't have the support that I needed, however a lot of the time I was the main point of contact for a lot of the projects, and therefore, if anyone had any issues, they would raise them with myself.
My manager was also highly interested in the coursework that I wrote, and I shared a lot of the research I did with her, especially on the introduction of new IT enabled processes and marketing recommendations from my marketing modules. Unilever has a set standards of leadership that each placement student is asked to follow and develop in these particular areas. The areas are extremely useful across all disciplines and can be applied to any industry and career path in the future. Which I think is extremely beneficial!
The office is open plan and a really light, glass filled office, which means it is extremely open, friendly and sociable. The general atmosphere is extremely relaxed, and due to our flexible working, it means that as long as the work is completed to a high standard and on time, most managers don't mind where you sit or how you get the work done. There are regular office meetings, and UK&I meetings, which are very fun and interesting events
The overall placement is extremely well organised, yet flexible. When you enter the company you have your work plan already in place, and your line manager and buddy will take you through your main goals and achievements you are expected to reach throughout the placement, they will also offer tips and guidance on how to approach them. All of your technical support is already in place before you start, so you are able to get stuck in straight away.
There is a wealth of training and support that is available to you as a placement student. There are so many different ways in which the company offers assistance in your personal training and development, including formal training, informal training, shadowing, and much much more. If you want to learn about something in more detail then you can just ask your manager and they'll point you in the right direction.
Unilever offers a fast-track system, therefore at the end of your placement, if you rate highly enough on each of the standards, then you are offered a place on the graduate scheme. This is great because it means you don't have to worry about applying to a graduate scheme during your final year and the graduate scheme is fantastic and offers even more experience and opportunities than the placement. If the graduate scheme isn't for you, then there are direct entry options with the company too.
Many of the placement students live together in the area, and it means that they plan a lot of events and gatherings together, which is really nice. Depending on your team depends on the level of social interaction outside of work, in my team all of them had young children which made social activities much harder to arrange.
I lived on the outskirts of London and regularly socialised within central London, which is pretty expensive if you don't know where to look, but there are a lot of student areas that are pretty reasonable (for London). As for living, as you can expect, it is also quite expensive due to being close to London, but many estate agents and private letters offer reasonable rates. SpareRoom.com is the best website for finding reasonable accommodation for the year.
Due to being so close to London, we mainly socialised in London, so the nightlife was amazing as everywhere was within reach!
There were loads of sports put on by Unilever. There was a different sport on every lunch time which anyone could get involved in. I played rugby every week and played in a tournament representing Unilever.