I did two roles, one in the UK business where I partnered the Food brands marketing teams & my second role where I worked in the global office as a cost controller in the Homecare category.
This industrial placement at Unilever has given me a great opportunity to learn and build upon skills that I began to develop at university in a working environment. You are given responsibility from day one to lead and manage projects, whilst having the support from your team. I have enjoyed my year at Unilever in HR, where I have gained business insights and help me decide on my future career path.
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From the beginning of my HR Industrial Placement I was given big projects to lead upon, which made me feel valued and trusted by the team. A lot of my team either worked part time or from another location, so I had learn to communicate via skype and emails a lot, however I still felt I was valued and had their support.
I had a line manager, along with two other employees who I worked with directly on different aspects of HR. I could approach them if I had any questions or needed any additional support, however the culture of Unilever is to encourage employees to first of all try to find the answers themselves as that is the best way to learn and develop. I received regular feedback from them to ensure continuous development as well as two formal reviews against the Standards of Leadership (one at six months and one at the end of placement). I also had a mentor whom I met with on a regular basis to discuss how my placement was going and if I needed any additional. I had access to additional eLearning courses to develop skills in areas such as assertiveness and project management.
The nature of my HR Industrial Placement and my work plan meant that my work load fluctuated depending on what events or projects I had to deliver on at the time. I always had tasks to complete, just at times I was busier than others due to the nature of the recruitment process and cycle in which my team manages.
During my placement, I was giving large amounts of responsibility, managing the undertaking of a number of high profile projects. However, I did always have the support of my line manager and consulted her on any important decisions made, but largely worked autonomously. Interns are very much valued and seen as regular employees, therefore are given real responsibility from day 1!
During my placement, I have learnt many invaluable lessons and gained transferable skills that will benefit me no matter what profession I enter. These skills range from stakeholder management to communication and networking. Whilst my placement will not directly impact on my degree, I believe there is no substitute lesson for your first job and at Unilever, you will gain skills that will carry you for the rest of your career.
There was a good atmosphere in the office and everyone is very welcoming. There is good team spirit and the atmosphere is very much geared at getting the best performance possible for the company. Whilst there is a good atmosphere in the office, there are not many team events or socials outside of working hours.
The work placement is well organised and as it is a well established placement programme, it is well structured. Although well structure once on the programme, the communication before starting is limited with information on location and team delivered very late (making it difficult to sort out accommodation, although the company does support with this).
Unilever and my team have invested a lot in my personal development, from providing me with access to eLearnings, face to face trainings, a mentor and having regular review sessions giving me constructive feedback in order to develop myself. Since the start of placement I have had the opportunity to develop my skills in the workplace that I will use and apply in my future career.
Very appealing. Unilever's Future Leaders Programme (grad scheme) offers many opportunities across the business but is very competitive to get a place on. You do rotations during your 3 years with Unilever so you can see other parts of the business. It's such a lovely place to work so securing 3 years with the business isn't a bad start.
Unilever didn't host any social events for the placement students, except from the induction event at the start of placement and then bringing all the interns together for a mid and end of year review session. There was a good atmosphere among the interns at the Leatherhead Office where we would meet up and I went on holiday with a big group of them! The only downside is that placement students don't tend to live in the same areas which makes meeting up for social events hard.
Unilever has offices and factory sites based across the country, however I was based in Blackfriars, Central London so the cost of living was very high. There is no difference in wage between sites and therefore, being based in London meant the majority of my salary was spent on rent.
Blackfriars is a very buzzy and social area of London, with many bars, restaurants and pubs! You will never be sort of places to socialise, and there are good connection to all parts of London. However, do not expect a cheap night out here, it is an expensive area of the Capital!
There is a vast range of opportunities to get involved inside of work ranging from gym classes to sports teams, musical bands and volunteering opportunities. Volunteering including helping at local food banks and providing mentoring opportunities to disadvantaged school children. I attended many of the gym classes before and after work and they were a great chance to get to know new colleagues, network with different people and unwind after a day in the office!