Carla Askwith

Which company do you work for?

Saladworks/Kettleby (Samworth Brothers)

What is your job?

Management Trainee

Tell us about your experience of working with Discovery Graduates

I applied for the Saladworks industrial placement scheme in December 2012. The application process involved an application, telephone interview and two assessment centres. Everyone at Discovery Graduates was really friendly and reassuring, which made the process more enjoyable. I was provided with lots of useful information prior to each stage of the assessment centre which was really helpful.

How easy/challenging did you find searching for a graduate job?

I kept in touch with the people I had worked with at Saladworks whilst I completed my final year at university which made finding a graduate job much easier, as this led to being contacted when potential opportunities arose.

Is your job the kind of job you anticipated doing when you left university?

My aim was to secure a place on a graduate scheme when I left university. I am on a rotational scheme, which gives me a really great insight into the company; I have completed 9 months in Personnel and I’m currently on my second rotation in Commercial.

Are you earning more or less than you expected, or about the same?

I am earning similar to as I expected.

Did it differ from what you expected? If so, how?

My graduate scheme experience has been similar to what I expected, as I had worked for Samworth Brothers previously on my placement year. However, so far, I have been able to have a good input into my rotations which has been great. I specialised in HR & Marketing at University, so completing rotations in both Personnel and Commercial/Marketing has been very interesting and beneficial to my future career.

What have you learnt in your first 6/12 months?

I have been able to put the theory that I learnt at University into practice during the first year of my graduate scheme. I have learnt a lot of management skills and gained great experience in HR through dealing with case work, collective consultation and performance development & management projects. I am currently enjoying developing my skills within commercial and marketing at a new site, which is a great opportunity to meet new people and gain further skills and insight.

What was the steepest learning curve for you?

The steepest learning curve is making decisions that really do affect people’s lives throughout case work, such as absence reviews and flexible working. I was given a lot of responsibility during my personnel rotation, so I ensured I was fully informed by reading and understanding policies & procedures, and learning from my colleague to ensure I made the right decisions.

What support have you had along the way in terms of training/development/mentoring etc?

I have received varied training which is really great to build up my skills. Training has included ‘Train the Trainer’ which equips you to train other people, sensory training, coaching training, 5S, Root Cause Analysis, and an Excel Intermediate course. The aforementioned training I have received over the past year gives an indication of the vast training on offer.

What do you enjoy most about work?

I enjoy most the opportunity to move around different sites, as this allows me to meet new people and really experience different sites, people, processes and norms. Although it varies from site to site, and department to department, you are generally given real responsibility.

What do you enjoy the least or find the hardest?

One thing that I do find challenging is the uncertainty of where your next placement will be and in which department, however you are able to have an input regarding your preferences and future goals which can shape your graduate scheme rotations.

Do you feel that school/university prepared you for work?

My particular university course involved a placement year which really prepared me for work, especially as it was split into two 6 month placements, thus I gained varied skills and experience. University itself also helped to prepare me for work, as I specialised in HR & Marketing, and therefore learnt subject specific skills as well as completing presentations and role play activities.

Take us through a typical day in your role as Graduate Management Trainee…

Depending on which department you are working in at which site, a typical day can be very different. During my rotation in Personnel, a typical day would involve working towards my longer term objective of creating, delivering and embedding a brand new Performance Development Review system for the business. This could involve branding and creating toolkits for all employees, delivering training courses for the new system and giving updates on completion rates to engage everybody. A typical day may also involve case work, such as absence reviews or flexible working requests, and the preparation and outcome work that comes with it. Employee engagement is a priority, hence creating a weekly team brief, and working towards plans such as family fun days and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities were common tasks to be involved with.

What would your advice be to students or recent graduates who are looking for a job?

My advice would be to try and get as involved as possible in extra-curricular activities at University to really build your CV. This will not only help in your job search but also give you extra skills which will enable you in the world of work. Also, network and keep in touch with people you meet along the way. This can be really beneficial for future opportunities.

How would you describe the culture at Samworth Brothers?

Every site is very different. That’s what makes Samworth Brothers a really interesting company to work for. Generally, Samworth Brothers is very traditional and values its people & quality of products. I have found the 3 different sites I have worked at to be very friendly and welcoming.