Hi everyone, I’m Lianna and I am currently just over half-way through an HR Summer Placement. For the last 8 weeks I’ve been working at the Kingston office.
The first person you’re sure to meet at Kingston is Bob. Bob is Kingston’s Security and is known for his cheery greetings every morning and evening. Bob’s polite and friendly manner is typical of everyone I’ve met, not only at Kingston, but at Unilever as a whole. Whatever your question, role, department or length of visit, everyone will go out of their way to help you making Kingston a wonderful place to work.
The office is completely relaxed, people turn up in comfortable clothing (jeans are in, suits out); there are also comfortable chairs and sofas for coffee breaks or informal meetings. Desks are first come first served, whatever your work level, you’re free to choose your desk each day meaning you work alongside a wide range of people. Bookable and non-bookable rooms are also available for larger meetings or more sensitive phone calls. Importantly, you never struggle to find a room or a desk, whatever the time of day.
Each of the six floors has a drinks area offering a wide range of complimentary coffees, teas and hot chocolate. There’s also a fridge if you wish to bring your own lunch, but most employees take advantage of the reasonably priced and high quality food produced by the Catering team in the Cafeteria. A free selection of fruit is available daily, but most importantly various flavours of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream are also available!
And for when you think you’ve taken advantage of the ice cream too much, there is an on-site Gym free to all employees. The gym offers a wide range of equipment, classes throughout the day, good showers and newly renovated changing rooms. I started off going to the gym several times a week, though I might have slipped a little lately…
And then there is Eben. Eben is the magic guy to whom you take your poorly laptop and he clicks a few things and there you go: it works like new! I have a reputation for being useless with computers, but Eben has managed to solve all my issues (for example fixing excel for me only yesterday). He runs a walk in session each day, which makes it easy and convenient to get anything you need fixed.
And finally – the shop. The Kingston shop stocks a wide range of Unilever products and sells them for below-the-high-street prices. It’s perfect for gifts to friends or stocking up for yourself!
Virtual and Agile Working
No matter where you are based, you’ll quickly find that your colleagues are all around the world. For example, one of the two people I work with the most sits next to me, while the other is in the Netherlands. As a result most Unilever meetings are virtual (people dial in via a conference call). This also means that we have the opportunity to work from home under Unilever’s agile working policy. Despite being a Summer Intern, this is still something I can take advantage of and you’ll find, especially in Kingston, that most people work from home 1-2 days a week.
Additionally, the vast number of Unilever factories and offices means that travel is integral to working at the company. So far I’ve been fortunate to visit and work at both Port Sunlight and Leatherhead. You may also have the opportunity to travel abroad.
Living in Kingston
When looking for a place to live I decided that I’d rather live within walking distance of the office than commute in. This means I live right in the heart of Kingston which offers an incredible shopping area and high street (I walk past it on my way to work, not good on pay day). The area also boasts many riverbank restaurants as it is located along the River Thames; in fact all Kingston interns are meeting there for a meal tonight. There’s also a leisure centre, cinema and Richmond Park to explore – and don’t forget the Belgian Waffle House.
At weekends I often meet up with friends located around London and set off on some sightseeing. Living in Kingston is perfect for this because it is on a direct line to Waterloo and only takes around 30 minutes. I’ve been lucky enough to experience Centre Court at Wimbledon (just a couple of stops on the train from Kingston); posed with Benedict Cumberbatch at Madame Tussauds and been to a Gladiatorial Fight, a Magic Show and a Stand-Up Comedy performance, as well as exploring many other major sites and museums.
The fact the office is within walking distance of the train station also means that if you wanted to live in an area with greater nightlife or a little more rural, you could easily commute in each day. Kingston also has a major bus station a few minutes’ walk from the office.
This summer has flown by. I was very nervous before I started, but everyone has been so welcoming, kind and helpful. I hoped I would be based around London and Kingston has been perfect. I’ve been given so much responsibility which has boosted by own skills and confidence. But what has made this internship incredible is everyone I work with!