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Placements/internships in consumer goods and FMCG

What work experience, internships and placements are available in the FMCG sector?

Companies working in the FMCG sector (otherwise known as the fast-moving-consumer-goods or consumer goods sector) include household names such as Danone, L’Oréal, Mars and Unilever. They offer a huge variety of work experience to undergraduate students, including summer internships, placement years (also known as industrial placements or sandwich years), and insight days or insight weeks. They are offered in a number of different professions and career areas, including:

  • product development or research and development (R&D)
  • nutrition (if a food specialist)
  • engineering
  • supply chain
  • buying and purchasing
  • marketing
  • HR
  • general business
  • sales
  • finance/accountancy
  • IT, IS (information systems) and related technology roles

The exact internship and placement programmes available do change each year according to the individual employer and the business needs they have at the time, so scroll through all of the options in the list on this page to ensure you don’t miss out the perfect placement for you.

What degree background do I need to apply to a FMCG internship or placement?

Different employers have different degree requirements, but most internships and placements are open to graduates of all degree disciplines. The ones that often require a relevant or technical degree are those in engineering, product development, R&D, nutrition and technology. Check out the vacancies on this page for more information.

What year do I need to be in?

Traditionally, industrial placements and internships are open to those in their second and/or penultimate year; insight and open days are usually open to first years, sometimes second years. However, increasingly, FMCG companies aren’t always specifying a particular year group for their opportunities, which implies that they are open to all. Have a good look through the details of the opportunities you are interested in.

How do I apply for internships at FMCG companies?

It’s a similar process to that of graduate jobs, but slightly condensed. Each consumer goods employer will design their own process, but it typically includes:

  • an application form, which sometimes includes uploading a CV and covering letter and answering motivational and competency questions
  • aptitude tests, often including numeracy tests
  • a telephone or video interview
  • a face-to-face interview or half-day assessment day or office visit

Consumer goods interviewers are likely to focus on your reasons for applying for the vacancy at that organisation, what you are currently thinking about your career plans, your strengths and weaknesses, and your skills. You may be asked competency questions or strengths-based questions or a mixture.

How can I be successful in the intern application process?

Emphasise your reasons for wanting the internship or placement at that company. Recruiters prefer candidates who actively want to work for them. Know what you would get out of the placement with the company. You don’t have to be set on a graduate career in that area or with that company, but you should be clear how it would help you clarify your career plans.

Emphasise how you have the skills to succeed on the internship. Each company, and each individual vacancy, will have a list of required skills, competencies and behaviours. In your application, make sure you give an example of how you have used as many of those skills as possible. Before an interview, think of different examples to discuss. Common skills sought by consumer goods companies, such as Mars and Danone, include innovative thinking, the ability to analyse data, teamwork and communication.

Emphasise how much you know about the company and the opportunities and challenges it faces. Do your research: know its brands, know its competitors and think about how issues such as Brexit, cost of materials and a pressure on prices could affect the company’s performance positively or negatively. This topic might come up at interview or you might use it as the basis of your own question. Either way, recruiters will expect you to talk knowledgeably about their products and brands.