I've thoroughly enjoyed my placement at Danone and found the work to be interesting and varied. The culture at Danone is fantastic; everyone is so welcoming, and regular team events make the environment a fun one to work in. As time has gone on, and I’ve become quick at doing my ‘usual’ tasks, I’ve been involved in other projects, such as giving training sessions to other teams, and implementing some new software. . I feel as though placements can take the role where they want to, and the company and managers will support you in doing that.
I felt very valued by my team at Danone, and I didn't expect the role to be so key to the business. I dealt with senior stakeholders throughout my placement year, and my team always trusted my analysis and advice when presenting forecasts to them. There is a strong culture of giving feedback at Danone, and felt valued in this way too, as colleagues would regularly give positive feedback when I completed a piece of work well.
I think the support has been great from managers. My manager is always available for questions, and happy to help which was particularly useful at the beginning of the placement where there is quite a steep learning curve. In times where she wasn’t available, other members of the team were always happy to assist. I think weekly 1 to 1s are useful for any new placements, particularly at the beginning, so any problems can be solved and priorities can be set for the week if there is a particularly high workload.
At the beginning of the placement I was extremely busy and found I had very little time to even stop to think! This was because you take over all the past interns work, who has obviously become quick at doing it over the year, and it will take you much longer to do it initially. However, after a few months the workload becomes more manageable, and you can begin to work on some other projects which interest you. That being said, every single day you will still be busy, particularly at month-end where you may have to work long hours to meet deadlines. You will never be bored working in Finance at Danone!
I was surprised at the amount of responsibility given to new interns at Danone. From day one I was sending out live sales emails to the whole business, and sending detailed sales forecast analysis to some senior stakeholders. There is a three week handover period where the previous intern guides you so it's not all too overwhelming to begin with. If the job wasn't done by an intern, it would have to be done by a permanent member of staff as it's a huge role. I gave presentations to some senior stakeholders/directors throughout the year and always felt that my opinion was valued. I really couldn't recommend the placement highly enough as the skills you learn and exposure you get is amazing!
The skills you learn will set you up for life. The skills you learn can be split into harder skills, such as becoming a whizz on excel over the course of the year, to softer skills such as learning to deal with difficult people. I've become much quicker at using excel over the course of the year, and have learnt many new formulas. I have also gained experience using software such as SAP, Blue Planner, and Essbase which will prove to be useful in future. The list of softer skills you learn is almost endless! You will learn how to deal with difficult people, how to explain complex information effectively, how to improve your presentation skills, how to keep calm under pressure at month-end with strict deadlines, how to problem-solve etc You'll constantly have to use your initiative to solve problems. In terms of skills you learn to help with your degree, presentation skills is a big one, but also time management. Some days you may have a to do lists of 10 things to do and you'll have to manage your time effectively, and prioritise tasks.
The office atmosphere was fantastic at Danone. Everyone is willing to help each other out, and the atmosphere is very laid back. There were lots of team events throughout the year which meant you really got to know everyone outside the office too. One such event was the Christmas party, which was held at Madame Tousourds!
The internship was well organised; a three week handover with the past intern meant it was easy to settle in. Other than that though you are treated like any other employee which is nice, and makes you feel valued and respected. There were induction sessions with all the various departments so you got to know everyone from the start
The company paid for a few software training sessions for me, which were useful throughout the year. HR also organsied a presentation skills workshop, to help interns improve their presenting skillls. I'd say the main investment made by people at Danone was their time, everyone was happy to spend time helping out and discussing their work.
Unfortunately there is no Finance graduate scheme at Danone which is disappointing. The only way of returning to Danone in Finance would be to apply for a direct entry role, but obviously the chance of a role being available at the time of graduation would be slim, and they would not be able to offer anything in advance. The company regularly offer graduate roles to Sales and Marketing placements though.
Yes there was a good social scene amongst placements at Danone. We regularly went for drinks after work, or ate lunch together - as well as occasionally having house parties or weekend day trips away. As Danone take on over 15 placements each year, the office atmosphere feels quite young, and everyone gets on well.
Chiswick is a lovely place, however it is extremely expensive to live in, and I ended up spending over half my salary on rent each month, leaving little money available for anything else. The only other alternative is to commute in from further afield, but even then you would end up spending hundreds of pounds a month on travel. Bars/resturants are very expencive in the area too, but probably no higher than the London average.
There are a few nice pubs in Chiswick and bars, but it is quite a peaceful part of London. The tube links to central London are good though, where nighlife is great! I've used the opportunity of living in London to see lots of great shows, and try out some top restaurants in central London
Yes, there were lots of opportunities to get involved in activities after work. On the business park each day there are various activities going on such as beach volleyball, rowing, or football. I also played football with collagues on a Wednesday, as lots of people at work were keen to play.