Jennifer Dickinson at Unilever Top Employer

Programmes Offered: Degree Apprenticeship Apprenticeship - Advanced Level (Level 3) Apprenticeship - Higher Level (Level 4/5)
Locations: Leatherhead Kingston Central London Port Sunlight
Industry: FMCG & Retail

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Jennifer Dickinson

Jennifer Dickinson

IT Apprentice - Graduated Jennifer Dickinson

I applied for the Unilever apprenticeship because I wasn’t sure that university was for me. I loved the idea of continuing my education but gaining a huge debt to do it wasn’t very appealing to me.

There isn’t really an area that I found more enjoyable than another during my apprenticeship. I think of myself as lucky because of all the opportunities I’ve had during my time here. I had the opportunity to work in two amazing teams during my 3 years and both brought their own challenges and so I couldn’t say I enjoyed one more.

Then there are the people I’ve had the opportunity to meet, from other apprentices based around the country to having talks with Unilever’s CIO and other Unilever Directors, which are some of the best people I’ve had the chance to meet.

I’ve been given lots of advice over the 3 years I’ve been here, some of it personal and some of it career related. But there are two pieces of advice that I was given at the beginning that have stuck with me.

The first being that there is no such thing as a stupid question, because sometimes we don’t know things, and the only way to find the answer is to ask.

The second piece of advice that stuck with me was to make opportunities for myself. No one is going to hand them to me if I sit there and wait for them. If I worked hard enough, and wanted it enough, then the door would be opened for me.

In my A Levels, I developed a website and a game and I was certain I wouldn’t be doing either of those in my role but other than that I didn’t have a huge expectation for what I was going to work on. One of the main reasons I wanted to work in IT was because technology changes regularly so I would be able to get involved in many things so I was happy to be working on anything.

A piece of advice I’d give somebody considering an apprenticeship at Unilever would be don’t be afraid of making mistakes. They’re often the best lessons to learn from, and as somebody coming into a new role with a limited amount of knowledge you’re bound to make a few, even the long-term employees make them.

The Unilever apprenticeship has been a necessary part in kick starting my career. When I first started my apprenticeship I had no idea what I wanted to do as a career but as I progressed I started to realise that I wanted to be involved with development and coding and after a small conversation with my managers at the time, I moved to a team where I could learn SQL coding (Structured Query Language).

I spent my last year within that team and learnt a lot about coding and the mindset you need to write it well and fortunately a few months before I was due to finish my apprenticeship, I was told of a new role that was going to be coming in around the time of my end date.

Moving roles halfway through my apprenticeship was potentially the best decision I made during my apprenticeship because through that, I gained enough experience to gain a full-time role at Unilever as a Junior Java Developer.

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