R&D Apprentice, Beverages Product Developer at Unilever

Start Date:
East Midlands
Programme Type:
Degree Apprenticeship
£1,800 monthly
Review Date:
February 2019

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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 the Beverages product development team for Europe, so my job involves drinking a lot of tea. I work on developing new black, green or herbal teas or renovating existing products. I spend a lot of time in the lab, trying out new recipes or tasting as a team, as well as performing measurements to make sure the recipe will work in the factory. I also am involved in writing specifications. The job is a varied mix of being creative and technical.

I am in this placement for 1 year and will move to another area of R&D next year.

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


Lots of skills have been developed, mainly my confidence, presentation skills and business awareness. In this placement I have been developing tasting skills, and learning the correct terminology to describe what is being tasted. By working with other functions, i am also gaining an awareness of marketing, costing/financials and processing within the factory.

3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?


I really enjoy the programme as it's so varied and I get to try a lot of different areas of work in R&D. Colleagues are very friendly and supportive and the creative side of the job is quite fun. I enjoy taking to people from different countries and can't wait until one of my products is on a shelf!

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4. How well organised/structured is your programme?


In terms of both work and university, things can be unclear sometimes, in terms of not knowing where your next placement will be until quite late, or how long it will actually take to achieve the degree. However there is a structure in place and this is something which people are working to improve a lot with new apprentices based on our feedback.

5. How much support do you receive from your employer?


My employer and manager are very supportive, we get a study day off work to prepare for any exams and if under pressure there are always people to talk to and help make you feel better. My manger takes interest in how I'm doing at university as well as work.

6. How much support do you receive from your training provider when working towards your qualifications?


Our lecturers are very supportive and understanding of the part timer requirements, but some other members of staff at the university do not always realise we are working full time jobs as well as doing a degree. The lecturers reply to emails at lightning speed and always are happy to help.

7. How well do you feel that your qualification (through your training provider) helps you to perform better in your role?


My chemistry degree hasn't been very relevant to my placements so far, but skills such as scientific method/best practices and presentation skills are transferable and the work I do at uni helps with things at work. My qualification also spends time on improving employ-ability skills and CV writing etc, which may be useful for when i finish my apprenticeship.

8. Are there extra-curricular activities to get involved in at your work? (For example, any social activities, sports teams, or even professional networking events.)


Lots. There is a gym and sports field where people play tennis, rugby, football and can just go for a run. The site also has a choir and other societies such as an archaeological society. Throughout the year there are also events such as a music festival and a fun day.

9a. Would you recommend Unilever to a friend?


9b. Why?

A good place to work that pays apprentices a very decent wage for someone who has just left sixth form. Working hours are flexible and the dress code is relaxed so it's a nice place to work. The company has a big emphasis on wellbeing of employees. Most people who work here are very friendly and have lots of knowledge they are willing to share!

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

Be honest and then you are more likely to get a job that's suited to you and you'll enjoy more. Be enthusiastic and have a genuine interest in what you're applying for. Don't stress about interviews - the interviewer is not trying to catch you out they just want to find out about you.

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