Working on the workplace organisation pillar of World Class Manufacturing - a lean manufacturing programme. Reducing non-value added activities and improving ergonomics. Implementing new projects to reduce costs in manufacturing - operations based and engineering based.
I really enjoyed lots of aspects of this placement. Unilever is a great company to work for and they really value their employees. My placement was based in one of Unilever's manufacturing sites and I was working on internal logistics inside the factories and continuous improvement. Although I study chemical engineering and this wasn't directly linked to my degree, I learnt so much will be so valuable to me in the future.
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I felt really valued by my colleagues here, but you do really have to build that and work on it so people know that you're trustworthy and that you'll get the job done. Stakeholder management is really important and people are constantly having first impressions of you as the business is so big and it's almost impossible to meet everyone at your location even in a year!
My guidance and support was excellent until my line manager went on maternity leave. After this, I received less support as I got more confident in my role, but also because the structure of receiving feedback was less stable compared to before as people had less time for catch up meetings.
On some days I was extremely busy and would skip lunch, but that's just my personality and I'm okay with that. Other days were a lot less busy and this gave me some more time to catch up on things. To be fair, it is the nature of the manufacturing environment; things are different everyday and you have to constantly adapt to changing priorities. If you like a more stable job in terms of workload, a manufacturing site placement probably isn't for you.
I was given so much responsibility that at times it felt that I was in over my head, HOWEVER, they will not give you responsibility unless they actually think you can do something or unless you've shown or convinced them that you can. That's also another important skill I've learned.
I would say I didn't gain much technical skill related to my degree beyond some advanced excel skills and data analysis. However, the skills I have learned here are genuinely skills for life and work in any industry. You really improve your communication, presenting, analysis and facilitation skills to name a few.
My office always had a radio on, but everyone sort of just sat in their own teams and never really mingled too much. Again, it's probably due to the nature of the manufacturing environment that everyone's so focussed, but you did get times when everyone had a laugh. The radio was slightly annoying to me, but I never complained about it.
My placement was organised relatively well. We knew our locations about 5-6 weeks prior to the start of our placements. The first 2 days of the placement was an induction at a really nice hotel in Surrey near the headquarters which was so lovely. When we got to our locations and started actually working, it took a few days to receive our goals for the year, and mine were not well written so mine actually ended up changing halfway through.
I received higher communications training. I was able to ask for projects that I had an interest in to develop a certain skill and increase my knowledge in that area. I was able to expense visits to other companies to learn a bit more about my role. I was also able to expense trips to workshops held by the business in different locations. The last 2 points were organised by myself. If I hadn't had put forward my desire to do this, they would not have happened and my development would have been a bit more limited to what was happening at my location (which wasn't much). They have webinars frequently about money, understanding your payslip, how to get into shares and also more female related talks which were great.
They are quite appealing, but it seems as though the grad scheme is your best bet to get as far ahead as possible in the shortest amount of time. You get the opportunity to network with a lot of people as you move location every 6 months. The financial bonus is very appealing too.
There was a good social scene depending on where you lived, however this wasn't organised by the business, it was solely organised by placement students. If you're up for that sort of thing you can definitely organise it, however that's heavily dependent on the placement students that come in that year. Everyone is always nice.
I lived in a different area to a lot of the other placement students working at my location (not London), but that's because it was cheaper for me to live there. It was £395 per month for rent and the cost of socialising was similar to the rest of the UK excluding London. There was a big city near my location so everything you can think of was there.
I'm not really a nightlife/party person, but when I have been out with the other students, they seemed to thing deals were great and there was always somewhere to go as the city is very lively and is also a student city so student discount galore! I think its great.
There were opportunities for evening walks, charity runs and fundraising for charities in the office, but other than that, not much at all. I think there would be a lot more if you didn't work at a manufacturing location. Maybe reaching out to other sites and maybe actually starting something would be your best bet if you're keen on out of work activities.