1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
As a R&D chemistry apprentice I help develop Unilever's new product formulations. So far I have worked on Laundry and Machine dishwash products. On a day-to-day basis I do this through testing of new materials, making samples of products, and gathering data as part of a wider research team.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
I have learnt the laboratory skills required for my role in research as well as achieving a distinction in HNC (applied chemistry) in my first year. I have also hugely improved my team working and communications skills through working in a team based environment, delivering presentations and contributing in team meetings. I would say that I am also a much more confident and comfortable person in the workplace now as well
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
The degree apprenticeship route is definitely a challenge to balance work and study. However, I do enjoy both - the opportunity to work on globally recognised brands is what drew me to the company and is something that still excites me. The work environment is friendly and I enjoy the work that . Being a University student and having the opportunity to join societies and clubs has been great and made the social side of my apprenticeship much more enjoyable.
4. How well organised/structured is your programme?
For the most part my programme is very well organised. In the first year I was given a 'buddy' at work, a graduate apprentice who I worked with and gave me guidance. Each year R&D apprentices move to a new department to experience a variety of job roles which I have enjoyed.
5. How much support do you receive from your employer?
The apprenticeship organisers have always made it clear that they are approachable with any problems that I might have. I have never had any problems that I needed help with but I am confident that if I did then I could find the help that I needed. One to one meetings with apprenticeship organisers have also been helpful and reassuring.
6. How much support do you receive from your training provider when working towards your qualifications?
I am treated like any other University student which is great, tutors are available via email and are very good at replying. Also have access to the chemistry student support office who are all very friendly and approachable. All resources, such as lecture recordings, lecture notes, assignments are available online.
7. How well do you feel that your qualification (through your training provider) helps you to perform better in your role?
A lot of my degree is so general that the teachings are difficult to directly apply to my job, however skills that we are taught like working in a lab environment, analytical techniques, writing electronic reports and such are skills that I use in my job every day and have found very useful.
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.)
Work do offer many activities, such as sports teams and social events however due to the age demographic of the workplace, being one of the youngest I often prefer to socialise with people my own age through university clubs rather than work clubs. Although there are a lot of apprentices in port sunlight there is not much socialising between us.
9a. Would you recommend Unilever to a friend?
Unilever has been a great company to work for, has given me a lot of opportunities to work on interesting projects and develop new and existing skills. It's a globally recognised company so is great to have on my CV for the future. I also admire the companies stance on topics like sustainability.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Unilever?
It's important to have experiences on your CV to help you stand out, not just academic qualifications but examples of jobs or volunteering work. The company puts a lot of focus on its ethos of 'making sustainable living commonplace' so it is important to be aware of this. I found that interviewers were much better at putting me at ease than in other places I had applied for jobs in the past!
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