The ‘U’ story: my journey from UoL to Unilever
In this Q&A with Anusavi, a recent BSc Accounting and Finance graduate based in Sri Lanka, she shares how participating in the University of London’s Business Placement scheme led to her being selected for the prestigious Unilever Leadership Internship Programme.
How did you hear about the University of London?
Being a fresh high-school graduate back in 2016, I was puzzled when it came to thinking about which University I should step into to start my journey as a Finance undergraduate. It won’t come as a surprise that many of my peers, lecturers and well-wishers recommended that I go for the University of London. It wasn’t a hard choice having heard the success stories of my seniors who graduated from the University.
How did you hear about the Business Placement scheme?
One fine summer evening, when I was overwhelmed with the pressure of examinations, an email notification tapped my inbox. Ping! It was the call for Summer Business Placements 2019 from the University. It was especially appealing to see that Unilever was among the options of great companies and I was more than excited to go for it. Especially due to the fact that in almost 44 countries graduates consider Unilever as the ‘Most Desired Employer’.
Without wasting a second, I updated my CV and submitted my application. I found the process put me in good cheer and motivated me during the stressful examination preparations.
Describe how you came to be in the position you're in with Unilever?
A few weeks after applying I received a notification from the University and a call from Unilever, informing me that they had shortlisted my name for the Unilever Leadership Internship Programme 2019, to work in the Finance department. Words can’t describe how joyful I was at that minute.
Unilever’s Employee Branding was refined to the extent that they arranged a video call to all the shortlisted candidates and gave us a snapshot of how to ace the interview session. This was really helpful and luckily I got through the interview session and was invited to take part in the second phase of the selection process, which was at an assessment centre, to analyse my potential further. As part of this, candidates were required to perform a group and individual presentation.
Again, I felt like the God of Luck was on my side because after such a competitive process among high quality candidates, I was the one to be selected for the prestigious internship programme.
How did studying for your University of London qualification prepare you for this opportunity?
The University of London name itself is an advantage on my CV in terms of its reputation, comprehensiveness and world ranking. Studying for my degree course has helped to prepare me for the working world by teaching me to stay focused, determined, and to accept and rise to challenges, which I practice daily in my professional life.
Tell us about work life with Unilever.
Just like first love, first job also has a special place in our hearts. My first week at Unilever started with induction training, which included meeting the previous cohort of interns who shared their experiences with us. We also participated in safety sessions, retail field visits to supermarkets and factory visits. Finally, we got to have a lunch cooking session with the Unilever Food Solutions chef, which was the best part for a home cook like me!
The next week, we met our respective line managers and were given our projects to manage. I am currently working on a project that evolves around the Ease of Financial Reporting across Unilever in a global aspect. My typical day involves working with Microsoft Excel, communicating with the managers about my projects and arranging meetings to discuss any updates and progress. Not to forget the fun parts of working at Unilever, we also organise exciting events like Potluck, Cricket Trophy and Movie nights to make work life more interactive and social!
What have you learned so far?
So far, the experience has taught me tremendously. I have been exposed to the corporate lifestyle in a really positive way. The encouraging environment in which to learn new skills and software, meet fellow colleagues from different backgrounds, and the mentorship from my managers are just some of the benefits.
I myself can see the improvement in the way I observe things and I am learning every day. By the end of this internship programme, I want to be a valuable addition to Unilever, who are providing me with an experience that I will cherish for a lifetime.
What are your hopes for the future?
An interesting question was raised during my interview when I was asked where I see myself in 10 years’ time. I replied that during that time-frame I would like to create a brand identity for myself and build up traits to be an inspiration to those who look up to me. I also see myself settling down with a beautiful family to live my happily ever after.
Ultimately, I work for a company that is purpose-driven, and my purpose in life is to be a better person than I was yesterday. I want to make at least one person smile every day. Because a smile is a curve that sets everything straight.