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A Sustainable Path

When you have just graduated in energy engineering and jump in employment for the first time, chances are high you’re not really looking for a job but for an adventure…

That was the case for me, at least. I wanted to be facing energy puzzles, turn them around, lucidly spot the issue and eventually come up with just the right solution to make things more efficient, reduce energy waste, save power and make the world a better place.

It sounded quite ambitious to me, too. But amazingly, that’s exactly what I got when, 18 months ago, I set foot as an intern in Unilever’s Home Care Factory in Northern Italy.

Unilever has also an ambitious project: the Sustainable Living Plan, which aims to make the company’s supply chain carbon free by 2030. So my first task there, as a fresh graduate, was to analyse the energy consumption of the factory, understand it, and find a way to reduce it – exactly the adventure had been dreaming of.

Read more “A Sustainable Path”

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My UIIP Experience: Petra Zilincanova, Marketing SP

Hi all!

My name is Petra and this summer I have been lucky enough to join the ice cream Marketing team. I have been working on various brands such as SNOG, Carte D’Or, Viennetta and Wall’s. I feel very nostalgic about the amazing experience I had at Unilever.

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You probably heard many amazing things about Unilever- how everybody is very welcoming, how you are given full responsibility from day one, how exciting the industry and brands are and especially how much you learn in such a short space of time. I did not expect all of this to happen, but the reality is even better than it sounds. I am working in a multimillion corporation, in a team full of intelligent and experienced people and I still feel relevant, heard and important for business performance.

When I was applying for this role, I did not have a clear image of what marketing at Unilever really was. I would now sum it up as a managerial role that requires you to be on a constant move, communicate with a lot of stakeholders (creative agencies, customer managers, market research, and your team) and be really good at task switching. By that I mean, within one day I can work on an organizing an event, preparing a presentation, ordering samples and going to training sessions to learn more about the company. Essentially, as a marketer at Unilever you get to decide on what, when and how a product is presented to the consumer. But do not worry- it is not stressful, it is exciting! You can never get bored at Unilever. Being able to execute brand strategies and see the results in the markets is such a great motivation! Besides that, EVERYONE in the ice cream team is always happy to take a break and help me out, teach me new skills and support me if I feel insecure.

I was assigned to 4 brands, hence I am learning so much about different management styles, brand personalities and their executions. I am working on many different projects for very different brands. All of these projects are new to me so you can imagine how much I got to learn in such a short period of time!

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But enough about serious stuff- Unilever is a FUN company to work for! Everyone is always smiling, joking around. People always find time to unite and celebrate big occasions, for example by going to a Zoo or to a team meal. We have a gym where I meet people from various departments, a shop where I can buy lots of products, the ice cream team has free ice cream in the office, we have flexible working hours, frequent new product tasting sessions and often attend brand events! But most importantly, I met so many inspirational people, that I will never forget and hopefully keep in touch for longer than the internship lasts.

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Unilever really is a company that feels like home and has helped me to grow immensely. I have a lot to remember and am now looking forward to working in marketing in the future.

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My UIIP Experience: Cinzia Corroppoli, Marketing IP

Hello,

I am Cinzia and I am a Brand Development Intern in the Unilever Marketing & Innovation Hub in Rotterdam, Weena. I am Italian and I graduated this year in International Management at Bocconi University. I joined Unilever in March after another internship in Amsterdam and, after almost a year in the Netherlands, I can definitely say this a great country to live in!

I always wanted to join a global firm where it is possible to touch the lives of millions of consumers through amazing products and brands while working in an international office environment. At the same time, I was looking for an organization committed to sustainability. This is why Unilever has always been a dream for me and I was thrilled when I knew I was going to take part to the Unilever International Internship Program in the European HQ!

I currently work in the Baking, Cooking and Spreads company on several expert baking margarine brands. Margarine is one of the oldest Unilever categories and it is fascinating to work on brands with such a strong heritage. During my internship, I worked on several digital marketing projects as a digital campaign to support the launch of our new product in the UK market and the launch of a new website for the brand. Every day I deal with agencies, programmers and local teams and no two days are the same.

You might still be wondering if Unilever is the right company for your internship. Is FMCG the best industry for me? What my roles and responsibilities would exactly be as intern? How does the office atmosphere look like? Based on my experience, I can say that if you wish to work in a challenging, fast-paced, international environment, the UIIP will exceed your expectations. As an intern you will take part in big projects and the support of your manager and your colleagues will help you improve your Marketing skills while contributing to your personal development. On top of everything, you will have the chance to meet amazing interns coming from all over Europe that will immediately become your family (the so-called ‘Unilever family’ J).

But let me tell you more about our adventures as interns in the next post.

Stay tuned!

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My UIIP Experience: Eva Karkoni, Marketing SP

Hi everyone,

My name is Eva and I joined Unilever almost 6 months ago as a Skin Cleansing Shopper Marketing intern.

Let me begin with some things about myself. I studied Marketing and Advertising in Athens and I am currently doing my Master’s in Marketing at the Erasmus University of Rotterdam which-fingers crossed- I am about to finish soon. I must admit that trying to combine work with a demanding study schedule was not an easy thing and if I ever make it I will throw a great party in the Weena Office (Just kidding here)!  However, Unilever provides a quite flexible environment, especially for students, and thus, I did not miss any of my classes I had to attend.

So, despite my Marketing background, I decided to do an internship in Customer Marketing, a field closer to Customer Development than Marketing. I did so, because I think it is preferable to wander around different positions and fields before deciding what you are mostly interested in. Honestly, if you think about it, internships are a good opportunity to explore your skills, talents and interests as well as gain experience and insights from different teams and departments.

The most interesting thing of my work is that being part of the CD department, means that you work for more than just one brand. Therefore, as a Skin Cleansing intern I work for Dove, Radox, Lux and Zwitzal (i.e. the baby care brand) which is much more interesting that you can imagine. You have to handle plenty of projects on a daily basis, brief agencies, collaborate with the Brand Development teams and other teams as well.

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To be more specific, Customer Marketing is Marketing at the Point-of-Sale, i.e. creating the appropriate displays, key visuals, call-to-actions and make them match with the brand’s personality in order to raise awareness and drive purchase intent. As part of my daily activities, I am in constant contact with our agencies responsible for developing the assets and the visuals. It is a role involving a lot of people and responsibilities due to the variety of brands and tasks. Along with some big projects, we also have to handle other minor ones that pop up during the day. This is great as it adds a splash of variety in life!

Of course, there are days that nothing goes well. I must admit that I encountered many difficulties especially in the beginning – the transition from careless student life to being a full time employee is not the easiest thing in life!

Something else that also fascinates me is the international environment we live in. It is fantastic to interact with people from all over the world on a daily basis and be acquainted with different personalities and cultures. If you think about it, there are 500 people in the building with different backgrounds and habits. On one day, you may find yourself talking about the Brazilian carnival and on the other day discussing the Arab Spring!

Furthermore, UL has some of the most famous and successful brands in the FMCG industry. It is thrilling to work for Dove, Ben and Jerry’s or Magnum and know that you are a part of their success and that you have contributed to their beautiful story.

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Therefore, now that this 6-month experience ends, I must admit that working for Unilever has been a very exciting and interesting period of my life and it gave me the opportunity to gain work experience as well as invest in my self-development in both professional and personal terms. I became more proactive and decisive as well as learnt how to operate efficiently under tight deadlines and a high level of pressure.

Overall, being part of the amazing team of UL is an experience I will always remember. I am happy for these 6 months and it was definitely worth it.

That is all from me for now!

Stay tuned from more stories of the wonderful world of Weena!

Eva

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My UIIP Experience: Kiki Huangm, Marketing SP

Hi everyone, my name is Kiki and I am currently on the Unilever International Internship programme based in Rotterdam. I am a Marketing intern working on Axe.

“Advertising and marketing products for men is not necessarily a girl’s dream.”

This is exactly what I thought when I moved to Unilever from another internship in the cosmetics industry. But this brand is definitely one of the coolest brands in male FMCG and is, in my opinion, the holy grail of Unilever.

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My internship started in mid-March 2015 and I had to relocate from Germany to the Netherlands. This was however not my first time in Rotterdam because I went to University here back in 2011. Growing up in a small German town as one of the only two Chinese kids in school (the other kid was my brother), I was always left with a feeling of curiosity for the undiscovered and foreign. Moving to a city abroad turned out to be a great decision and solution to this problem!

And then the day came. With the end of three great years studying business in an international environment, a choice had to be made. Despite the feeling of being so much older, wiser and accomplished than before, I was still not ready to define my future path yet. So, I ended up taking one year to get some real work experience.

Long story short: I set foot in the Rotterdam offices on March 18 for a 6-month adventure in brand development. As the name reveals, you are involved in developing how a brand sounds, looks and feels. All concepts and ideas behind a brand must be clearly defined and expressed. The other part of this department is concerned with communicating and aligning with the local markets and to provide them with the right tools to land the products in the best manner.

After my first week I was assigned my first project: Planning a 2-day launch event. I had to organize this workshop for 60 people coming from the European headquarters and all of our European markets. This really big challenge showed me right away how much responsibility was assigned to me after just one week. As an intern you really feel like a full team member and are accounted for your projects. It was a real emotional and physical rollercoaster during the planning period with a peak at the actual orchestration of the event. Think of building retail spaces and point-of-sale materials, ordering mock-ups for products, setting up virtual reality, getting creative for the goodie bags and in the decoration of the locations. In these two months of planning, it was a real challenge to be aware of all the things happening around me and to pull the right strings. Finally, the event took place and turned out to be very successful. This was my first milestone of this internship.

After these intense months, my main responsibility became artworks – not necessarily the most fun part of working in Brand Development. Nevertheless, it is a job that needs to be done and is a significant part of the bigger picture. This is the part where I actually learned the most about the FMCG industry but also ways of working within Unilever. It is quite insightful in terms of how the company operates and how decisions are made. You will not believe how much of a deal these artworks are!

But let me tell you more about the whole UIIP experience in my next post. Stay tuned!

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My UIIP Experience: Olga Szafonov, Marketing SP

Hello Everyone,

I am Olga Szafonov from Budapest, Hungary. I am currently working as a Brand Developement Intern in the Laundry Team at the Europe HQ of Unilever. I studied International Business Administration at Corvinus University Budapest and I have graduated from Rotterdam School of Management as a Master in Strategic Management in 2015.

I originally moved to the Netherlands to study at Erasmus University Rotterdam but I planned to do an internship in the summer from the very beginning. I believe that an internship gives you valuable learning experience and boosts your CV at the same time. My Masters was a 12-month-long program starting at September 2014 and finishing in July 2015. As I really wanted to find an internship, I was actively looking for one from February-March. Fortunately, Unilever is recruiting interns all throughout the year for its 6-month internship program. I joined in the March recruitment round. In the first part of my internship I still had some classes and projects at university but I could manage both of them thanks to the flexible environment.

When I was searching for an internship, I was looking for a multinational company which is well-known all around the world. As my main interest is in Marketing, I searched for internships in this field. The Europe HQ of Unilever is a great opportunity for those who do not speak Dutch as it operates in a multinational environment – in the department where I work there are colleagues from approximately 20 different countries! I thought I would fit perfectly in an environment like this. Unilever has really strong brands, which is a nice opportunity from a branding perspective. An additional reason for joining Unilever was that I have never worked in the FMCG industry and I was interested in how it works. Finally, I saw it is a great opportunity to start working in the Europe HQ right away, as real strategic thinking and innovations are part of the everyday work here.

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As a Brand Development Intern I am working on marketing materials: key visuals, product packages, product samples, digital assets or TV spots. As this is the Europe HQ, a big proportion of my time is for communication with the different countries where we operate, supplying them with materials, aligning the regions with each other. A usual day for me consists of proceeding with 2-3 bigger projects, and solving several minor issues. I was lucky in my internship as I have received not only support tasks, but my own projects as well where I could lead the work. I am the most proud of an internal activation, where we introduced our new product to our colleagues in the building – it was a day full of fun.

Working at Unilever has given me a lot of insight into how the FMCG industry operates, what does it mean to sell products directly to the people and how you can convince them to buy your products every day, again and again. It was a nice learning in terms of communicating and working together with many agencies and countries from all around the world. I was impressed how much Unilever is focusing on sustainability and protecting the environment. I have discovered that Unilever is a great, innovative and modern company, and I am proud to belong one of the biggest FMCG companies.

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From IP to UFLP: How a placement can help…

Laura’s from a small town near Birmingham, went to Loughborough and studied Publishing with English 4 year BA with an industrial placement. Currently Laura’s working in HR Expertise managing the UK & Ireland youth employability programmes. When Laura’s not at work she’s an avid traveller and holiday maker, loves chocolate, playing netball & keeping fit and eating bags of giant chocolate buttons in a super quick time.

Laura wanted to do an industrial placement because she thought it would help her get really useful work experience before leaving uni. She went to a careers fair at Loughborough to find out what the options were. She found Unilever really attractive because she loved many of the brands and HR seemed to be a great fit because she wanted a role that had a good balance between business focus and interaction with people. It was clear that HR would be a challenging function because of the need to serve both the business needs and defend the needs of employees.

During the application process, Laura was completely herself and she thinks that helped her to stand out. She was able to demonstrate her knowledge about the business, the USLP & why she believed that Unilever was an organisation that she was suited to.

On her industrial placement, Laura was given a challenging role. In her year’s placement she worked on several projects. One example was project managing the implementation of an employee discount scheme for UK & Ireland. Her manager was really supportive and encouraged her to get involved in other smaller projects to get visibility of the breadth of what HR involves at Unilever.

According to Laura, “doing my industrial placement definitely helped [her] get a job on the UFLP. If you do well on the placement scheme there is a good chance that you’ll get a job on the grad scheme. Also, Unilever is a really prestigious company so regardless of the opportunity of the Unilever programme, in general, [she had] no doubts that a year working with Unilever would have definitely put [her] in a great position to get a job elsewhere.”

Laura’s main tip for getting a place on the Industrial Placement scheme with Unilever would be to focus on the quality of your application. Make sure it explains what you have to offer the business as well as what you want out of it.

In her words, “it’s an amazing placement which can be really challenging at times, but you’ll reap the rewards.”

A-to-Z-of-application-tips Application Tips

A-Z of Application Tips!

A-to-Z-of-application-tipsHere you’ll find our A to Z of tips for applying to Unilever.  Some tips are general, some are more specific and some are not just applicable to your initial application but also the rest of the process.  We hope they give you some help and reassurance in seeing the application through.  Enjoy!

 

Apply as soon as possible – our jobs are given on a rolling basis, the quicker you apply the higher the chance that there will be jobs remaining, you don’t want to get half way through the process to find out the opportunity has gone.

Be yourself – if you’re not genuine, you’ll get sussed out eventually!

Check your application before submitting – poor spelling and grammar won’t impress; double check everything.

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket – Unilever is a fantastic company to work for but you have to be sensible.  Apply for as many jobs as you can instead of relying on one application at a time.

Emphasise the competencies which demonstrate the Unilever Standards of Leadership.

Feedback – if you don’t feel confident submitting without a second opinion get feedback from a friend, family member or a careers advisor.

Generic application? Try and be more imaginative, you need to stand out.

Honesty – don’t lie in your application.

‘I’ not ‘We’ – It is your application, if you’re writing about when you worked in a team make sure you’re talking about what you did and not what ‘we’ did.

Just be aware that Unilever can’t guarantee your work location until closer to your starting date.  UFLPs (graduates) may have to do various placements in different locations throughout the scheme, depending on the function, but placement students will be in one location for their full period of working.  You can give your preferences to location but nothing can be guaranteed.   If the idea of this makes you uncomfortable then applying to Unilever may not be right for you.

Know about the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG as you will hear it abbreviated) industry and why you want to work within it.

Lists – these will be helpful to create before starting applying for jobs and will ensure you’re never forgetting anything.  List everything you’ve done, the skills you’ve learnt, your strengths, your weaknesses (and how you’re overcoming them, see N) and what you want to gain from your placement/ a company.  A lot of these things will already be on your CV if you already have one.

Make sure the function you’re applying for is right for you.

No negativity – don’t talk about yourself in a negative way.  If you talk about a weakness, highlight how you’re overcoming it.

Overuse of examples – try to have various examples of when you’ve demonstrated the Standards of Leadership and competencies in general.  Throughout the process you should try not to use the same examples over and over again as this will make you seem limited in experience.

Passion – if you have it, this will come through in your application.  Unilever loves people with passion.  If you’re not passionate about the company then maybe Unilever is not the company for you!

Questions – make sure you understand what’s being asked of you and that you answer all parts if the question is asking you for numerous things.  Be relevant and don’t waffle.

Research before you start writing.

S.T.A.R. – if you give an example of an experience or competency use the Situation, Task, Action, Result format to structure so that you are clear and concise.  This doesn’t just apply to the application process but to interviews too.

Tailor your application to Unilever and specifically why you want to work in your chosen function at Unilever in particular.

Understand what Unilever does and why we stand out from our competitors.

Visit our website, our social media portals and Google us! Everything you can get your hands on to read will just help you throughout the application process.

Word limit – try and get as close to them as possible.  This is not to say if you write 200 words for a 500 word max question you won’t get through to the next stage but it should look like you’ve really thought about what you’ve written and put a bit of effort in.  Remember this is your first opportunity to make a good impression so give as much detail for each question as possible.

Xtra mile – putting in that little bit more time is worth it to submit a well researched, well thought out and well written application.

Your examples don’t just have to be work or education related, you can use experiences from hobbies, volunteering, home life etc.

Zen – be calm and enjoy the process!

future Application Tips

Top 10 Tips for Graduate Job Hunters

Hi All,

We all know that job hunting as a graduate isn’t easy. The process is constantly growing in length with extensive application forms, multiple psychometric tests, telephone interviews and of course, extremely demanding selection boards. The process is most definitely challenging and on top of other deadlines that you may be facing (exams, coursework deadlines etc.) it can be a stressful time. As a recent graduate who started at Unilever in 2013 I remember clearly the pressure of job-hunting and the challenges it created. I thought therefore it would be helpful to offer my top ten tips for graduate job-hunters. Some are specific to Unilever and some are slightly more general. These are by no means the holy grail of securing a graduate job but hopefully for those who are feeling the strain they may help;

1.    Know yourself

It sounds so simple but isn’t always something that people remember to consider. Joanne Lucy (Capability Director, Enterprise Technical Solutions at Unilever) who is regularly involved in Selection Boards highlighted the importance of candidates understanding and being able to articulate their own Unique Selling Point (USP). Know what makes you stand out from other candidates and don’t be afraid to share this. Consider your strengths but also be able to identify any areas where you would like to improve. Most importantly, be yourself. It’s easy to recognise someone who is saying what they think recruiters want to hear so honesty really is the best policy.

2.    Avoid generalisations

You don’t have to be a ‘certain person’ to fit a particular role. My degree was in Sport Management and my work background was mainly focused around Communications and Marketing but I am currently a HR Management Trainee. Unilever do not look for specific backgrounds but rather where the individual wants to be in the future. Don’t be deterred if you have studied something that isn’t naturally connected to the role you’re interested in. As long as you can justify your interest and demonstrate potential you have a chance.

3.    Preparation is key

Preparation is important for every stage of the recruitment process and should never be underestimated. Make sure you’ve done your research on Unilever as a company, our history and our culture. Keep up to date with news on your chosen function and be able to justify your opinions. Understand the function that you have applied for and how it applies to other areas of the business. Ask yourself why you are interested in this area and what can you bring to the role and to the company. It’s also worth making sure that you have an awareness of the external market – how are Unilever performing against our competitors? How are we navigating the challenges faced? Sources such as The Economist can help with this. Finally, ensure that you have a good grasp of Unilever’s Standards of Leadership as these are a critical part of the selection process.

4.    Be specific – use examples

Think carefully about the examples that you can use to back up the skills/strengths that you have. Interviewers want to hear about specific challenges/experiences that you have had and how you reacted in this situation. Try to structure your answers using the STAR technique;

S – Situation – What was the task/challenge?

T – Task – What did you need to do to complete the task/overcome the challenge?

A – Action – What actions did YOU take to complete the task/overcome the challenge. Be specific here. Think in terms of ‘I’ rather than ‘we’.

R – Result – What was the outcome? What did you learn during the process?

It may help to think about examples around key competencies (e.g. communication, leadership etc) in advance as this will help you to develop a sense of self-awareness that can be extremely useful in interview situations. Also where possible try to use a broad range of experiences rather than the same scenario in every example. This can help demonstrate versatility and breadth of experience.

5.    Be confident but realistic

Confidence in your own ability and what you can bring to the company is key. Be proud of your achievements and learn to sell yourself and your skills. You are your own best advocate and this is an opportunity to share the reasons why you stand out from other applicants. You should however be realistic in what you are saying. Exaggerating your skills is unlikely to get you far and is a risky approach. Also be aware of areas where you may need to improve. These may not necessarily be ‘weaknesses’ rather areas that you recognise as not being as strong and would like to improve on.

6.    Be flexible

As a Unilever Future Leader a certain degree of flexibility is required. For some functions this means geographical flexibility (e.g. Supply Chain, HR, R&D). For all functions flexibility in the roles carried out and the tasks within these roles is a must. Take time to consider if this sort of flexibility is something you are willing to take on. Personally, the opportunity to move around the country experiencing different elements of HR is one of the key reasons I chose the scheme. It’s exciting and a fantastic learning opportunity but this may not be for everyone.

7.    Ask questions

I can’t advocate the importance of asking questions enough. Yes, this can include prepared questions that you have thought of in advance, but also ensure that during your interview/assessment day you listen to the interviewer and respond where possible. Asking questions helps demonstrate engagement and enthusiasm which is important. When asked for his top tip for graduates at Selection Boards, David Sprent (Vice-President Customer Supply Chain UK and Ireland) spoke about looking for ‘genuine enthusiasm and energy around Unilever and its brands’. Asking questions is a great way to demonstrate this. However, do make sure that your questions are relevant and situation-appropriate. Also try to avoid the ‘obvious’ questions that are answered elsewhere as this could imply that you haven’t done your research.

In addition, if you have any questions before your telephone interview/selection day feel free to contact Unilever’s current graduates via our Twitter / Facebook pages.

8.    Make a contribution

This is specifically in regards to the ‘group task’ element of Selection Boards which are never the easiest tasks to get through. The best advice is to make sure that you make a contribution. You are being assessed against key competencies throughout the group task and if you say little or nothing this will inevitably affect your rating. Be assured and confident throughout the discussion and try to demonstrate interpersonal and team skills. Working as a team rather than as competitors will stand you in much better stead so consider your team mates and try to engage with those who may be struggling to find their voice. If you do disagree with another comment, explain why this is a case and suggest an alternative. Try not to become too consumed with finding the ‘right’ answer. How you get to a final solution is often the most important part.

9.    It’s never too early to network

The word ‘network’ is constantly used in the business world and whilst at first it may seem intimidating or irrelevant to where you are at, the importance will quickly become clear. It really is never too early to start building your own network. Keep in touch with as many people as you can – course-mates, past employers and lecturers as well as friends. All can be a good source of information and may be able to offer inside knowledge about the function that you are looking at. You might want to consider building a ‘LinkedIn’ profile so you can connect with people in the sectors that you are interested with. It’s also a great place to document your work history, show yourself off and find out about different careers.

10. Stay calm

Interview processes are not the most relaxing of experiences but it is important that you stay calm. Whilst nerves are usually inevitable try to not let them impact your performance. If possible, arrive to the venue with time to spare to enable you to familiarise yourself with the surroundings and avoid any last minute panics about being late. Specifically in regards to the assessment centre remember that there is more than one task during the day. Don’t panic if you feel that you have done badly in one task – this won’t ruin your chances of success and the chances are you are judging yourself harshly. Move on and tackle the next task as a new challenge. It’s a long day but whenever possible try to remain upbeat and interested until you’re on the train home. Remember, you can only do your best and the assessors genuinely want you to do well!

I hope this has been helpful. If you would like more specific tips about Unilever’s recruitment process take a look at Nick’s blog from February this year. If you do have any questions about the recruitment process feel free to ask in the question box below or contact the current grads via Facebook/Twitter. We are happy to help where possible and reply to all questions!

Good luck to everyone!