Working with the buyers to discuss product availability dates for styles out of stock and keeping a log for when and if they are going to become available again.
With Unilever being home to some of the most high profile brands in the world, I was keen to experience the marketing department and this insight did not disappoint. This was an extremely insightful experience and I really enjoyed my time spent here. There were plenty of networking opportunities and I gained a real insight into how marketing operates here.
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I was involved in several projects, all of which had a lot of team members. The responsibilities I was given were vital to keep the projects moving forward. Teams had to rely on me to produce reports and drive processes, so I knew the work I did had value. This was emphasised in the encouragement I got from colleagues who were all eager to be supportive of me.
Unilever has an excellent support programme. I had a week’s handover with the person I was replacing which taught me the basics. My line manager was able to guide me through my work plan goals, which were clearly set out at the start. I also had a contact manager to talk about career progression and things outside of my work plan. Unilever provides buddies to give extra support too. Alongside all this, there are seminars and workshops to ensure you feel supported and that give guidance about future career paths.
I always had something to do, though naturally, some days were busier than others. I never felt completely overwhelmed with work, and I was able to complete all my tasks within the 9-5.30 time frame. The variety of the work meant I didn’t get bored of working on one thing, as I was always able work on something else if I felt I needed a change.
Unilever makes sure its placement students have responsibility from day one. In my first week I was sending reports out to the customer teams and following up on any actions with them. My manager made sure I took the lead on some projects; so I represented the UK when building a European reporting system, and I took the lead on presenting and proposing a project to a customer.
This placement has helped me develop many skills; from communication to business awareness. This will help me going forward into a career after my degree, especially if I work in a large corporate business. The work itself won’t influence my science degree, but time management skills will definitely have an impact in the final year of my degree.
The UK&I head office is an open plan space with over 800 people working there. Everyone is accessible, including senior managers, meaning it is easy to ask questions and glean experience from those around you. It does depend on your team as to how social things are outside of work. My team was a bit older so we didn’t go out in the evenings much, but we always got on and were able to have a laugh together.
Unilever has a well-established placement programme. There are over 50 placement students each year so there is a set induction plan to help you settle. There are also mid-year and end of placement reviews which assess you on your work plan goals and standards of leadership. There is plenty of opportunity for feedback throughout the year too.
I felt Unilever invests a lot of time and resources into developing its trainees. My manager made sure I had the opportunity to develop in the areas that I wanted to develop- such as tailoring projects to allow me to present my work. There were also sessions where senior managers gave advice from their experiences, for people starting their career. There were a few workshops to sign up to to teach you about technology systems you would be using.
Unilever has a highly rated graduate programme which is appealing. Within this there are plenty of opportunities to get a broad experience of the business through it. In 3 years you get exposure to 6 business areas on the Supply Chain programme. But getting onto the scheme is competitive and is not guaranteed from doing the year in industry.
The level of social interaction amongst the placement students varies according to where you are based. In Leatherhead the placement students often have lunch together and have had several nights out. But if you are in a factory you may be on your own, and the only interaction you have with placement students are on the monthly catch up calls. Regarding other colleagues, it varies dramatically depending on your team and their life situations.
I was in Leatherhead, which being in the south east isn’t the cheapest. However the salary Unilever pays is enough to cover living costs, though you probably won’t be saving that much. There is great variety of costs depending on where you live- in Clapham the rent and commute costs a lot more than in Surbiton, where I lived.
Leatherhead does not have much of a nightlife, so if the placement students wanted to go out, we had to go into London or Clapham. Since this is where most students lived, this wasn’t too bad, but it did mean not everyone could attend. Socialising in Leatherhead tended to be going to a pub after work for an hour rather than a night out.
Unilever ensured you have a +1 goal, so I was part of the team who did London recruitment. I also participated in going to a local school to carry out a business challenge. Another volunteering day involved handing out ice cream around London. So it encourages you to volunteer and do things outside of your work plan, but in terms of groups and clubs, they aren't widely advertised so they are hard to get stuck into.