Formulating and implementing a training plan for the new starters joining the factory, as well as developing the warehouse design for the new factory
I have had an absolutely fantastic time working at Unilever Burton, where I was given a large amount of responsibility and opportunities to develop. Everyone who worked on site was extremely friendly and I felt welcomed into the family from day 1. Coming to work was always a pleasure and there was a great work/life balance, with a number of opportunities available to socialise outside of work.
I felt very valued by my team, being entrusted to lead weekly meetings and I was able to have influence over major decisions. Unilever creates a very inclusive environment, whereby everyone on site works together and my colleagues did not seem hesitant to work with me. At Unilever, you are not viewed to be lower as an IP, but truly a member of the team.
The management team at Burton are extremely strong, being knowledgeable and are always happy to help. From my experience, they really trust their team and encourage you to work somewhat independently and without micromanaging. However, whenever I had a question relating to anything in my role, I was always aware who to reach out to.
At the start of my placement, work was somewhat slow due to the project that I was working on being in the early phases. However, this gave me a great opportunity to get settled and learn about the company. Over time, my role and responsibilities expanded significantly to the point where I felt I had the opportunity to make an impact on a vast range of areas in the project. At this point, it seemed there were few times I didn't have multiple things to do, which I really enjoyed.
The amount of responsibility given to you at Unilever is what surprised me the most about the company, and also what I enjoyed the most. I was given large responsibilities, whereby I was leading teams and making decisions which impact the future of the factory. Young people are frequently given fantastic opportunities for leadership, managing projects, acting as line leaders or impacting the design of the factory.
I have developed a huge amount of knowledge during my time at Unilever, having the chance to observe and have an impact on the development of a new factory. This required me to develop my leadership, communication and organisational skills, as well as my general confidence - probably my most improved trait since joining Unilever. I have also massively improved my knowledge of supply chain, an area i am interested in. The only downside of my placement is that it offered limited chances to further my chemical engineering knowledge, though I knew this would largely be the case when I applied.
The general office environment was extremely friendly. Being an open plan office, everyone could easily interact with one another and ask people questions as necessary. However, if I needed to focus on some work I felt I could put my headphones on and sit in silence, without feeling judged. The general vibe was somewhat informal, avoiding getting bogged down in unnecessary formalities.
The overall organisation was good, receiving feedback through each step of the application process, and everyone was told when a decision would be made following the final interview (the following morning). This was great as it meant there was no nervous waiting for weeks afterwards. However, I was only told my placement location a few weeks prior to starting, which didnt leave me with much time to find a house, and I wasn't fully clear what my goals were until a couple weeks into my placement. There was also not a formal induction when I started, which would have been nice as well to get me comfortable right away.
Unilever offer a fantastic graduate program which provides an opportunity to move through multiple rotations, every 6 months. This is looks to be a fantastic opportunity, especially for people who are looking to get into leadership or management roles. This is something I am extremely keen to get onto myself, following my great time in Unilever.
There was a great social scene during my placement, with there being many graduates also working on site. We would often go out for drinks, and there was also a weekly 6 a side league which we participated in, as well as occasional badminton sessions. Everyone was extremely friendly throughout
My placement location was quite a cheap area, being a small town in the midlands. However, I am aware that some other placement students based in London do have to pay a lot for rent, living in Wimbledon and Vauxhall etc. My experience with this was good, but it is definitely something to keep in mind before applying.
The nightlife is quite lacking in Burton, as there are very few nice bar and clubs with the town being quite small. However, as the brewing capital of England, Burton does have a number of nice pubs which can provide some locally brewed beer! Many of the other placement students were based in Liverpool or London which of course have livelier night lives, though to be honest I don't feel this impacted my enjoyment of the placement at all.