Careers case studies

13/11/2012 03:57:15

Job: Apprentice Recruitment Coordinator, Nestlé UK & Ireland

Interviewee name: Lydia Cebreiro

Qualifications: Currently studying for NVQ Level 3 HR

"I love being able to interact with different people every day and having responsibility for real business tasks."

Why did you decide to do an apprenticeship?

I joined Nestlé UK & Ireland in 2011 on its HR Apprenticeship Programme as a recruitment Coordinator. Before this I attended Sixth Form College but after six months of being there I realised that it wasn't the right route for me.

How have you benefitted from doing an apprenticeship rather than going straight into a job or going to uni?

The Nestlé Apprenticeship Programme provided me with an incredible opportunity to learn while I earned and to gain experience by working for the world's largest food manufacturer.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

My role is seen as the ambassador of the recruitment team at Nestlé as I am the first point of contact when colleagues from around the business need information or support in recruitment. I love being able to interact with different people every day and having responsibility for real business tasks. I have learnt to use my initiative to solve problems and make decisions which is something I think is only possible through hands on experience.

How much work and study do you do each week?

I spend four days a week in the office and one day at the local college in Croydon studying for my NVQ Level 3 in HR.

Any plans for the future?

As I develop my understanding of the processes used in recruitment and roles available in HR I can see an exciting career path through this profession, which I now feel confident and capable to work in.

Job: Food Technologist, Taylors of Harrogate

Interviewee name: Clare Walker

Qualification: BSc (Hons) Food Studies and Nutrition, University of Leeds

"It's an ever-changing industry with lots of opportunity to develop."

What does an average day involve?

I'm part of the Quality Assurance team responsible for ensuring our Yorkshire Tea and Taylors Coffee are consistently produced to the highest quality for our acustomers. For me this might involve assessing our training and food safety systems and procedures, working with our suppliers to make sure they meet our high standards and liaising with other departments, such as our training and production teams, to implement new processes.

What was your career path?

I started at Taylors of Harrogate as a Trainee Food Technologist after I graduated from university. I was immediately given lots of exciting responsibilities to help me learn and develop. I also completed several external courses such as food hygiene training. After two years in the business I became a food technologist.

What is the best thing about your job?

I love my job because every day is different and I enjoy the interaction with a range of departments. There's a huge sense of achievement when you've resolved an issue or received excellent feedback from your customers.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of pursuing this career?

If you have a passion for food and enjoy science subjects then this may be the career for you. It's an advantage to get some work experience, whether that's during your school holidays or as an industrial placement as a part of your degree. I'd also recommend going to university open days to find out more about the courses they offer and speak to current students.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

I expect that I'll be working in the food industry in a quality assurance based role. It's an ever-changing industry, with lots of opportunities to learn and develop.

How should you make the perfect cup of tea? Do you put the milk in first or after?

If I'm using a teapot I always warm the pot with some hot water while the kettle's on, empty that water, put in my tea, add my freshly boiling water and leave to brew for 4-5 minutes. Milk before or after is very much personal preference, but I tend to put milk in first if the tea's been brewed in a teapot.

If I'm brewing it in a mug I put tea in first as adding milk first to a mug will lower the water temperature.

Job: Unilever graduate trainee (currently on a six month placement as a Process Development Manager)

Interviewee name: Chris Seymour

Qualifications: A-Level physics, chemistry and maths and an MEng, Chemical Engineering, Strathclyde University

Works: Caivano, Naples, Italy

Tell us about your job…

At the moment I’m mostly working on the visual quality of Cornetto and making things easier for the production team. My job is about improving how it looks in a small pilot plant before scaling it up to make these improvements on a global scale in a factory.

Our goal is always to improve the standard of quality of our ice cream and the best way to communicate this good quality to our consumer is to improve its visual appearance. I work on developing new processes to do this. With Cornetto it’s important to give a “ripple” effect to build a crown formation on the top of the ice cream. My work involves improving the quality of ripples in the product through different engineering design methods such as flow control, temperature analysis and pressure sensing.

What interested you about chemical engineering?

I was 17 and started looking at universities but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I was interested in engineering because the sciences appeal to me and I like working with my hands and being creative.

I chose chemical engineering because I went on a day trip to one of the universities and the IChemE (Institution of Chemical Engineers) sold it to me by telling me that chemical engineering is a huge part of our lives. It’s in everything around us, from shower gel to the food products in our fridge.

What subjects did you study at school?

I studied physics, chemistry and maths, which were the subjects necessary for my course - you need good, logical subjects. I really love physics. It’s a study of how stuff works and it made me interested in doing something related to calculating what’s going on around us and how to make things work.

How useful did you find your university degree?

At Unilever there are different functions like research and development (R&D), supply chain management, financial management, marketing and customer development (sales). For R&D you need a specific and strong technical qualification in order to get onto the course such as a 2:1 degree in chemistry or chemical engineering as they are very useful for the job.

R&D has a lot of different roles and during the graduate programme you get to work in all these broad areas and you’re challenged in very different ways in the different jobs. My last position was particularly academic and scientific and I spent a lot of time researching scientific papers. That was a skill I gained at university - looking through books and scientific journals to find what I’m looking for. Where I’m working now is on the cusp of making the product happen on a large scale and I need to use more core chemical engineering skills, such as fluid dynamics, flow splitting and heat transfer, to understand what’s happening.

What personal qualities are important for being an engineer?

You need to have good analytical skills. You can learn specific and technical things at university in an engineering degree but what you should be learning is how to analyse difficult technical problems. You need to understand what a problem is and where a problem stems from and during the course of a technical degree you develop a focus on being able to solve analytical problems.

Read Chris’ full interview on Tomorrow’s Engineer’s website.