Find out how Sam secured a year-long placement at L’Oréal after discovering his passion for marketing through his BSc Management course at WBS.
As a placement year student studying BSc Management at Warwick Business School, focusing on marketing and digital business, I knew from day one that I wanted experience in these sectors before I joined the job ladder. I gained a love for marketing through the various modules I’d studied throughout my course so far, and through the societies I joined which gave opportunities to experience this in a real-life context. It was my passion for marketing that eventually led to where I am today – a marketing intern for CeraVe Skincare at L’Oréal.
At the beginning of my second year at WBS, I began to research the best ways to get an insight into marketing and the potential career paths this interest could lead to. I quickly learned that marketing was a broad discipline, ranging from the creative side of content and product marketing, to SEO and digital marketing. As I researched these different areas, I came across opportunities for both summer internships and placement years, working inside world-renowned companies in various marketing roles. The more I discovered about the various business sectors, I became fascinated by FMCG. The fast-moving environment coupled with the tangibility of marketing efforts in physical goods drove that appeal, influencing my decision to take a placement year and enabling me to focus my applications within this sector.
How I prepared for the application process
After narrowing down my desired industry I researched companies offering suitable placement year opportunities and compiled a list of the various companies I wanted to apply to. And so, the process began, writing CVs and cover letters, taking online assessments, preparing for video interviews and trying to network with as many current employees as I could. Thanks to an event at WBS that was jointly organised by the WBS CareersPlus team and L’Oréal, I was able to get a first-hand insight into careers at L’Oréal and experience the pressures of an assessment centre. With knowledge of what was to come, I was able to best prepare for my L’Oréal assessment centre, researching the 36 international brands that make up the group, discovering passions for marketing strategies used by these brands, and the future projection of the cosmetics industry.
Starting my placement at L’Oréal
After weeks of preparing, and a day of rigorous interviews, group exercises, and assessments, I was able to land a job at L’Oréal. My placement year began in July, with a week of virtual training to learn all the skills needed for the year ahead. I managed to gain a placement in CeraVe, a dermo-skincare brand developing efficacious products to support the protective skin barrier, with a rapidly growing cult following. My initial perceptions of this dermatologist developed brand were utterly changed as I saw the immense growth it was beginning to see, reaching the public eye and being endorsed by both GPs and TikTok stars alike. Being part of a small team of only two others in brand management has allowed me to gain vast levels of commercial exposure this year, working alongside immense talent to drive the continued success of CeraVe.
How my placement has been so far
Initially, I was left speechless with the amount of responsibility interns were given within the business. Being trusted with budgets of close to £500k, creating content to be seen by hundreds of thousands of customers, and planning the expansion of our product range within weeks of starting was daunting, but thrilling to play an integral role in the business.
To date, one of the most exciting projects I have been involved with was the launch of the CeraVe Hydrating Cream-to-Foam Cleanser, a new addition to the popular cleansing franchise. With this launch, I was able to experience the freedom of planning promotional activities, defining strategy, and raising awareness around a brand-new product, however also faced the difficulties of persuading current customers to try our new cleanser, and recruiting those following other ‘cult skincare’ brands. Overall, this project was a great success, with the added satisfaction of seeing a product I had helped bring to life, on shelves in store.
Although a common answer, it is true to say that no day at L’Oréal is the same. The fast-moving environment allows me to work on a large variety of tasks and projects, however I am able to narrow my role down into three categories; creativity, analysis, and strategy. As to be expected in a marketing role, I am able to be creative in my role, creating promotional content for use on social media, designing aids for our sales teams, and blueprinting display units to be deployed in stores. A highlight was working to redesign our Amazon brand store. This page was responsible for a large proportion of sales on the site, so had to be designed with functionality in mind at all times, resulting in an impressive new page live in time to capture Prime Day sales.
Additionally, I have been able to think analytically during my role, creating sales reports, spotting consumer trends, and running analyses on our competitors to best differentiate ourselves. This leads in to the strategic side of my role, delivering strategy meetings to various key stakeholders based off these insights, as well as the launch of new products in the UK. I particularly enjoyed the opportunity I had researching and presenting an opportunity within the cosmetics market, ultimately driving a plan to launch a new product to fill that gap in the market.
Putting the skills I have learned at WBS into practice
So far this year, I have been able to put into practice the various marketing and digital skills I had learned during my studies at WBS, such as practicing paid search and copyrighting in a professional setting where the results are paramount to the success of projects. Along with this, commercial practice requires the soft skills taught at WBS, namely presentation skills, critical thinking, and personal branding. Being able to present confidently to senior level stakeholders as well and large audiences are some of the ways I have been able to put what I have learnt at WBS into practice.
My advice to those who want to complete a placement year
Finally, my top tip to other students who are thinking about doing a placement year is to make sure you do your research. The commercial exposure that can be gained in 12 months is incomparable with many other opportunities as an undergraduate. However, remember that a year is a long time – find out where your career passions lie and apply to those roles as a passionate application will really make you stand out against your competition. I had always imagined what my dream job would be like, but I didn’t expect to find it whilst doing my placement year.
Did you know that within our BSc Management course you can focus your studies around marketing by following our recognised marketing pathway? Discover more about our BSc Management course and our placement year opportunities in our undergraduate brochure.