1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
I am a research scientist in the Discover department at Unilever, Colworth working on ice cream innovation and development. Some of the daily tasks I carry out include making lab-scale ice creams and testing their properties in many varied ways. I interact with various member of the Discover team as well as partners at other Unilever sites. One of my responsibilities is for the up-keeping of a gas chromatography mass spectrum machine (GC-MS) which is a machine I use as part of one of my projects.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
I have received 1st qualifications from my university coursework submissions. I have been on many and varied relevant training sessions to benefit myself at work, e.g. risk assessment training. I have also learnt how to operate a large number of analytical machines in order to carry out measurements. One professional skill I have learnt is how to speak in a presentation as I had little experience before I started my apprenticeship.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
I very much enjoy the fast pace of working life alongside studying. I feel that it enables me to stay focused and motivated which means that I enjoy the experience a lot. I enjoy working in a team of PhDs level scientist as they all contribute to your learning. Being an apprentice exceeded my expectations as I have learnt so much interesting and relevant information in such a short space of time.
4. How valued do you feel by Unilever?
I feel I am very valued. The apprentice scheme is all about development and furthering your career. There is a lot of internal recognition for the scheme as they have recently created special annual apprentice awards in order to recognise the hard work that has been carried out. I also feel valued when the team members of projects mention apprentices names or reference names in presentations as a way of valuing the involvement.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
The apprenticeship scheme is very well structured and organised at Colworth. The induction ran smoothly and was a great start to the scheme. The training given has exceeded my expectations and has enabled me to grow as an individual. The support at Colworth is overwhelming; the other team members will always answer your questions, no matter how stupid or obvious they are. Plus apprentices have regular meetings with mentors and study buddies to enable a fully rounded support system is in place if needed.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
The support at university is very high considering I am only studying 1 day a week. The tutors are always happy to answer emails or phone calls about university work related issues. They give lots of guidance and are very open towards giving help when/if needed. I enjoy the support they give as it means I feel happy about the work I am doing.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
The support at Unilever is overwhelming. On induction you are assigned a manager, mentor, lunch friend, study buddy, an apprentice contact and a HR contact. Each and every person is more than willing to help you or answer any questions. The site also has multiple types of support group, and so there is never a point where there is no one you can talk to. Support is a key factor in Unilever's employee wellbeing and so is at a very high standard. I enjoy the support given and the comfort it gives you.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
My salary covers my living costs, my travel costs, my daily costs, my social costs and locational costs. I think the salary is appropriate for the scheme and the current economic status in the UK.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
There are many and varied opportunities outside of work. There are company events such as 'Week of Joy' and 'Magnum Pink and Black Party' which are all about celebrating the work done in Unilever and expressing the celebration to consumers to attract further sales. There are many voluntary activities that employees can sign up to do which are fully supported by Unilever. The Colworth site has a vitality sports club and a social club in which a variety of sports and social events take place.
9a. Would you recommend Unilever to a friend? *
9b. Why? *
The apprentice scheme is the best opportunity I have ever seized. I would highly recommend working for Unilever and taking up and apprenticeship to anyone. Unilever is a very motivating and respectful company, they ensure health and wellbeing to workers and consumers globally. It is so wonderful to be able to work alongside world-class scientists and help contribute to new science.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Unilever? *
In the application process, make sure you read through the forms and the statements you have written more than 3 times, as mistakes are always hiding from you and could cost you the job. At an interview make sure you be polite and respectful, people take time out of their day, so thank them for it. When on boarding make sure you ask as many questions as possible as the more information you have the better. I would have like to have been told the scope of opportunities apprenticeships have to offer.
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