Jenny is in her third year of a geography degree at the University of Bristol. She took part in the Shell Step Programme where she worked with a company called Ming Foods, which produces Chinese pancakes for M&S, and Morrisons. The manufacturing process created a lot of waste with the scrap at the edge of the pancake. Her job was to come up with a food product from the waste that would be profitable.
What was your motivation?
Geography doesn’t lend itself very well to any particular professions. I wanted to get some business experience and commercial awareness that all companies seem to want. I had never considered the food sector before. I really wanted to try something new.
What did the application process involve?
There is an online application process for Shell Step interns. Once you have registered there is access to a forum, which lists jobs as they come available. I waited a long time for the right programme to appear. Eventually, Ming Foods came up and it was the only one that really interested me.
What did you do?
They give you a lot of responsibility from day one. Every day I would look at my timetable and see what I had to do. For example, I would go to the British Library to do some research, or arrange meetings with directors or packaging people.
How did you sell the experience on your CV?
I have been applying for marketing research positions and I have been demonstrating the things I was doing during the project. For example, I had to do a lot of presentations and companies always ask if you can use PowerPoint. Some also ask for your best example of working in business, so I sell it that way.
Did you enjoy it?
It was a really great experience with really great people. It gives you the confidence to apply for jobs you wouldn’t have considered before.
What did you learn?
Being able to talk people, even if they’re much more experienced. It also taught me time management, which is very important and about using my initiative. The time management in particular helped with my dissertation.
Getting to visit people at M&S and seeing how things worked in the factory. The competitions were really good too – and meeting James Max from The Apprentice was quite cool!
For the first two weeks I felt really lost. There is no-one there to help you and I realised I didn’t know anything about the food sector. But after you get going, it’s fine; you’ve just got to keep working hard.
Advice to readers?
Definitely consider doing the Shell Step programme. It offers you a really broad range of opportunities and you really get responsibility for your own job. Many people don’t consider working for small firms, but by working for a small company you get to see the whole organisation, and possibly work on other projects too. Plus, it helps with your CV.