Coming into a new business is always a difficult transition, but when you have only 10 weeks over summer to dive in, get involved and deliver on projects it can be pretty daunting. For Tams, he embraced the opportunity and took advantage of all he could. We caught up with him to chat through what his experience was really like.
Hey Tams, so you’re finishing our summer intern programme but you’ve been at University as well! Where did you study and what did you do?
I recently graduated from the University of Hull with a degree in Accounting and Finance. However, I can’t get enough of it so in a few weeks I’ll start my masters at Warwick, studying Business and Consulting.
Incredible work! So how did you get into a summer internship here?
I applied for Male Undergraduate of the Year 2019 and got the invitation to apply in an email from my university.
I thought nothing of it but as I was in the process of applying to internships anyway so thought ‘why not?’.
It was a pretty rigorous assessment process, but I made it to an Assessment Centre at the Hammersmith HQ. Luckily, I was selected to be in the top 10 of the competition, and so was offered a summer internship or a placement year at L’Oréal. As a placement year wasn’t required as part of my university course, I chose to do a finance summer internship in 2019.
I enjoyed the experience so much that I was itching to come back to London.
I wanted to spend as much time at L’Oréal as I could, so I applied for the commercial internship this year and here we are!
Sound like a pretty fulfilling experience then! How do you sum it all up?
Growth. Being an intern here is such a unique experience that anything more specific wouldn’t do the role justice. However, the word couldn’t be more apt for how I feel about my experience here; I learned so much about a part of the business world which was relatively new for me.
I gained more experience in 10 weeks than I could have possibly imagined.
OK, so we’re dying to know: what did you actually do?
I was a commercial summer intern working in the Luxe division for Urban Decay and Kiehls. With commercial there’s no one day which is the same; I worked with all the different functions and brands, giving me such a good insight into the business of luxury.
One day I would be supporting national account managers with ad-hoc requests and the next I would be working with the sales team on innovating new product launches. There is so much that goes on in my role from tracking sales figures to even working on strategy for Boots!
If I were to describe everything that my role encompassed we’d be here for hours!
To be honest, having so many varying tasks is really what made it so engaging. For someone who wants to have contact with all of the business and work on everything from finance to marketing, this role is really for you. I would also say that there is so much learning on the job, and you’re given the autonomy to get out of the role what you put in. The learning curve was fast and steep, but I feel almost like a different person with the knowledge I now have a result of that.
Was that responsibility expected for you, joining straight from uni?
Well, interns are given so much to do and are really treated like full time employees. The internship itself was probably the most responsibility that I’ve been given!
Being treated like a full-time employee for 10 weeks is challenging but also really rewarding.
For example, I was put in charge of building sales trackers to see how well our products were selling around the country and asked to present this information to my team several times over the course of my time here. That’s something that I would’ve thought someone much higher up than me would be doing, as making sure that the information put across is correct is crucial to how the team will move forward.
So to answer your question; the responsibility was challenging but also incredible. I don’t think anyone would have expected it, but a great experience nonetheless.
There must have been a fair few challenges though, even in 10 weeks, right?
For sure, and again mainly around the responsibility. You learn so much on the job that of course you’ll make a few mistakes, but that is really what allows you to learn so fast.
At the start you are given so much to do that it can feel a little overwhelming although with the hindsight I now have, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I realised very quickly that efficiency was probably the most important part of my job, effectively managing my time and the volume of work which I had been given was really challenging. Getting the work done quickly, whilst still completing it to a high standard was so important and something that definitely took time to perfect.
OK so tell us…what is L’Oréal REALLY like on the inside?
People are incredibly approachable — at all levels of the business — whether it be a fellow intern or a member of the Executive Leader Team. They’re so willing to help and take time out of their day to make sure that you’re settling in well and enjoying your time at the business.
I had the opportunity to work with the commercial director on a project and at no point did I ever feel uncomfortable asking her anything from guidance in my role or where’s the best place to go for lunch!
Everyone is so accessible and there will always be someone who can help you
It really doesn’t matter how small the problem or how big their role is at the company; that sense of community is really like nothing I’ve ever experienced and is what makes L’Oréal such an incredible company to work for (even for just for 10 weeks).
Sounds good! So what do you say to someone stepping into your shoes?
Be enthusiastic, show that you want to work here and what you would bring to the company as an intern. I was told at my Assessment Centre that working here isn’t just about you being the right fit for L’Oréal is just as important as L’Oréal being the right fit for you.
You need to be comfortable and confident in your own skin whilst still being adaptable, having the ability to be constantly fluid in regards to your work style and structure of your day.
I’d also advise every candidate at all stages of the process to learn about L’Oréal
There’s so much to learn, from the divisions, the brands and the functions to everything in between. By becoming more knowledgeable about the business you work for and what it stands for; you’ll be in such a better position to come forward with good ideas and really make an impact in your assessments and ultimately your job.