1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
My job title is a Formulation Apprentice. I work in the lab to develop and improve deodorant products for the market. I also work in the lab to qualify products that we make. There's a bit of office work also, writing up the experiments performed, updating safety documents, researching and learning about formulations that we currently have, and future improvements that we want to make. I'm responsible for the lab work for a couple of projects making sure it all gets completed on time. I work with external companies to get in potentially new raw materials or methods for assessment.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
Developed organisational skills massively. Learnt how to conduct lab experiments that are fool-proof. Learnt how to communicate intelligently. Developed more presentational skills (but still hugely working on this as I have social anxiety).
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
The first 2 years I enjoyed a lot. This past year has been very difficult for me. I've struggled with stress and other things have gotten on top of me. I've tended to be a high-achieving student, but this year has been tough grades and just scraping passes. However, Unilever have been FANTASTIC with the support that I've received to help me get through this hard time. I'm really impressed and the culture of support has been magnificent. I'm enjoying it more now this year than earlier in the year.
4. How valued do you feel by Unilever?
I feel very appreciated here. I don't feel like the word "apprentice" has changed the way people internally treat me. To them, I'm just another employer. I find I can struggle with external companies if they see in my email signature that I'm an "apprentice". I've been given good responsibilities and if I was given too much, it was never a problem as we'd find a solution.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
It's very well organised and planned out. I'm happy with all the training that I've received and always felt confident to ask anyone if I was struggling. The University has been the main problem for me with help. As it's distance learning, it can be a little difficult to get an answer out of them soon enough for it to be helpful.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
Not a great amount of support from the university. There are systems in place that can provide support, but as there's no competition for our enrolment (as in, not other universities that offer the same course), they're not great at providing a good service.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
Loads! Really impressed with the support received from Unilever. Any problems that I've had have been resolved very quickly. The accessibility is amazing - really clear and informative as to what advice/help there is within the company.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
My salary is absolutely amazing for an apprenticeship salary. I can live perfectly comfortably in a really nice flat (I also have a husband and he works to provide a quarter of our income) and it's mostly supported by my income. I live in Leeds and only 3 miles from work so I cycle everyday and so there are no travel costs. Social activities for me are sport - I participate in multiple and the costs of these are relatively low.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
Yes there are. I take part in many careers events which helps build my confidence in talking to people. There are many voluntary things that we do with children in the local area. The council gyms are subsidised by the company which means we don't have to pay to keep fit. There are many people that have made sport clubs within the company which gives you greater access to sport and like-minded people.
9a. Would you recommend Unilever to a friend? *
9b. Why? *
It's an amazing company to work for. Very friendly staff, very supportive. There are many benefits to working in this company and it's not short of opportunities for later in your career.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Unilever? *
Be yourself. When it came to my interview, I let my personality shine through. My grades were definitely not the greatest out of the candidates that I was up against, but because I showed that I was an enthusiastic person who was willing to learn throughout, I got the place on the apprenticeship scheme.
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