Global Deodorants R+D packaging apprentice at Unilever

Start Date:
Programme Type:
Apprenticeship - Higher Level (Level 4/5)
£17,600 annually
Review Date:
June 2015

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1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:


I work in Unilevers Global Deodorant Packaging team. I work on numerous projects to deliver new innovations to millions on consumers globally. I have different roles on different projects and different levels of responsibilities. However, on a day to day basis, I will often work interact with people of the other side of the world to solve problems or look at how we next progress. Whether this is developing and carrying out functional test work to develop a new design, project risk assessments or updating key project stakeholders on the staus of the project. Recently I ave taken a big lead in dimensional testing. This requires the programming of automated vision systems to allow accurate and consistent measurement of new development parts.

2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?


The skillset I have developd so far through my apprenticeship at unilever is far bigger than I would have imagined. I have been given the opputunity to work on numerous, different types of projects. All allowing me to upskill in different areas. Whether this is project management, injection mould development, dimensional testing, functional test protocol development. This has allowed me to be in some cases, almost an expert in certain topics because of the training and involvement I have had in certain areas. On top of all the project work which has allowed me to develop in a large way, Unilever invest a lot of time, money and effort into both internal and external training courses to develop my skills in specific areas. During my 3 years with Unilever, I have attended numerous courses, varying in depth and visited numerous suppliers and partners to help understand what goes on in the wider team. In particular, I attended a week long course in injection mould tool management. This was the most valuable course I have been on as it related directly to my current work and gave me so much more knowledge about something I already knew quite a lot about. Finally, Unilever support me to attend Hull university part time to study mechanical engineering. As of this year, I will have completed my foundation degree. The remaining 3 years will allow to gain a bachelors degree.

3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?


I enjoy the apprenticeship program day in day out for numerous reasons. These reasons include: - The team that I work with are very welcoming and fun to be around. Always creating a god work environment and always there to offer help on guidance on any subject matter. The team genuinely get on with each other. Not because they have to due to working in the same space. - The work itself is very interesting and often rewarding. Problems/challenges are often encountered in this line of work and it feels great to overcome a challenge, especially as a team.

4. How valued do you feel by Unilever?


As a company Unilever treat their apprentices like the rest of their employees. We tend to see the majority of benefits and opportunities that everyone else see's. As a team I feel very valued. The whole team treat apprentices as they would any other team member. So much that we actually do work at the same level as many technicians, technologists and even work stream leaders. My manager is often trying to put me in new areas of work to help me further develop. They don't simply put easy tasks in front of you that nobody else wants to do. They ensure that the work I will be doing is challenging, interesting for me and is going to develop me further into an asset for the company.

5. How well organised/structured is your programme?


Unilever have a very clear plan set out for how the apprenticeship is going to run. With an idea of what I should be learning each year and which a clear idea of who/how I should be at the end of the scheme. For example they understand that in the first 3 years I should be open to a wide array of knowledge and try to gain experience in numerous areas. Whereas in the last 3 years I might start to specialise in one particular area. Training is always offered when needed or even just as an oppurtunity to try something new and learn about a new subject. Constant weekly/monthly meetings take place with my manager and project leaders to ensure that everything is going okay and if I have any questions ect.. I would say that although there is a clear team hierarchy, it doesnt play a huge role in how the team operates. Work level doesn't afect how people treat each other. Everyone can be the same person around different levels of management for example. I think this creates a great work environment. As University is a key aspect of the scheme, Unilever will also ensure that they are doing whatever they can to ensure my success. Whether it is simply some more time to study, additional training or tutoring ect..

6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?


Being part-time and only attending university once a week it can be hard to receive a high level of support from tutors, especially when your day is crammed with up to 9 hours of lectures. I feel the level of support does vary between lecturers. Some are always on hand to offer support whether this is answering some short questions by email or offering additional tutorial sessions at the end of both our days. Whereas some don't seem to offer up as much of their time. This sometimes leads to the students helping each other out or even other lecturers helping.

6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?


The amount of support received is incredibly high. They are always on hand to help with any issues, queries or questions I may have. They seem to have a genuine interest in my development and progress which in turn helps me progress at a much higher level. My manager is often very busy but will spare time to sit down with no issues. Always providing good options to solve any issues.

7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?


Due to a high commute distance and other expenses, it can be quite tight with the salary provided. However I always knew this would be the case when I applied for the job. Obviously Unilever offer a very competitive salary which is much high than many other employers.

8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?


There is a big team culture within Unilever and because of this there is always a lot going on outside of work. Whether this be - - Team events (Marathons/Tough mudder) - Weekly sports matches (Football/squash/running) - Team meals after workshops/events - Wider team events such as the entire site (Summer and end of year ball) - In our team we have a team which tries to organise activities to bring the team together and have fun together. Through walks, go karting, fishing trips) Because of all these different events, the team gets brought closer together.

9a. Would you recommend Unilever to a friend? *


9b. Why? *

Because : - The work itself is very interesting and rewarding - The team I work with are great to be around in a professional and out of work manor. - The skills you will learn are incredibly valuable - You will be given lots of opportunities to do things you shown an interest in - Unilever as a company look after their employees with lots of great benefits. - You get to work with people from all around the world which is something I really enjoy.

10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Unilever? *

The recruitment process is much longer than I originally anticipated. Ensure you do company research to show a understanding of what Unilever do, why they do it and what they are trying to achieve. Unilever will give you the opportunity the tour the site prior to the final interview. Take this chance to understand if this is really what you want to do. There are numerous roles and apprenticeships in Unilever. Throughout the tour you may see something else that interests you or that your original choice is not what you expected. A key piece of advice for the interview stage is to show that you have a genuine interest in something (Not just career wise, but personally). A applicant with numerous top flight grades and qualifications will look appealing but showing you have a genuine passion for something is something Unilever value.

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