I spent my placement year in the HR team for Jacobs Douwe Egberts

Aleksandra Kalita
Aleksandra Kalita
Year in Industry role: HR Talent and Learning Intern at Jacobs Douwe Egberts
BSc Biomedical Science with a Year in Industry
Aleksandra spent her Year in Industry working as a HR Talent and Learning Intern at Jacobs Douwe Egberts. During her placement, Aleksandra was inolved in staff learning and development, recruitment and event organisation. Aleksandra aspires to a career in medicine but the transferrable skills and valuable experience she gained during her placement year will continue to benefit her for years to come.
Aleksandra Kalita

What made you decide to study BSc Biomedical Science with a Year in Industry at Sheffield?

Firstly, Sheffield consistently ranks amongst the top 100 universities worldwide, and its status as a member of the Russell Group reflected the high research output of the institution. As a city, Sheffield is also perfect for students - even though it has lots of shops, bars and other places to go out, everything is quite close together. It is also located near to other major cities including Manchester, Nottingham and Birmingham. This means that there are several airports near the city, which is extremely important for me as an international student.

What have you enjoyed most about your course?

I have particularly enjoyed my second-year modules. Initially, I was unsure whether I should study Anatomy, however, I ended up loving it. The lectures were extremely engaging, which helped with the practical elements of the module, and I really appreciated how supportive the lecturers were. 

What transferable skills have you developed during your course?

The most important transferable skill I have developed through my course is the ability to think critically, which I have gained through laboratory classes, essay writing and laboratory reports. Effective communication is another valuable skill I have gained through the course as a result of paired/group work tasks during different modules. 

Where did you go for your placement and what was your role?

I did my placement at Jacobs Douwe Egberts (JDE), a coffee company that owns brands including Kenco, Tassimo and L’Or. My role was HR Talent and Learning Intern, which meant I worked as part of the Human Resources team. As part of my role I worked across all of the organisation’s business units: Retail, Professional, Manufacturing and Research & Development. 

What sort of things did you do on your placement?

My roles required me to complete various assignments from simple tasks, like ordering branded goodies, to more complex projects like organising a week-long celebration of Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development. One of the largest and most enjoyable projects during my time at Jacobs Douwe Egberts was organising intern assessment centres and communicating with our newly recruited interns. I also took part in a graduate assessment centre where I sat in on interviews and presentations, which I found extremely interesting. 

Another major component of my placement was supporting learning and development for JDE employees. These included a variety of training sessions and “Insight Discovery profiles”, which allow employees to better understand their work preferences and communication styles, based on psychological tests. 

What skills did you learn from your placement?

I have developed many soft and hard skills during my placement. I gained greater business awareness and a better understanding of business etiquette, which are difficult to acquire without working in a company. I am especially proud to have improved my leadership skills and I have gained more confidence in sharing my ideas publicly. Finally, having faced several unexpected situations during my time at JDE, I have also improved my ability to make decisions quickly. 

What did you enjoy most about the placement year?

The people! It was amazing to meet so many successful people who are keen to support interns with learning new skills. During my time at JDE, I received a lot of helpful advice and encouragement, which allowed me to produce my best work. I also made a few really good friends who made the placement even better! Finally, it was great to gain an insight into life after university - my placement allowed me to identify what I would and wouldn’t like to do after graduation. 

How do you think the placement year will help your career?

Although my career aspirations and my placement role differ greatly, I can easily see how the experience is going to help me in the future. Human Resources are essential to all businesses - from global companies to local hospitals. I now understand effective techniques for improving one’s work, whilst also avoiding burnout, plus a greater appreciation of the characteristics that make a good employee. I have gained experience in conducting interviews and delivering presentations, which I’m sure will have improved my employability significantly. My internship also accelerated my personal development by making me more aware of my own strengths and weaknesses.

What do you hope to do after your degree?

After graduating, I hope to stay at the University of Sheffield to study either Medicine or Forensic Anatomy. I am fascinated by the complexity of the human body, and how there is such clear variation between individuals. If I do pursue a career in medicine, I would love to work as a surgical dermatologist.

What would you say to a prospective student considering studying BSc Biomedical Science with a Year in Industry at Sheffield?

Biomedical science is a really broad area of science that allows students to follow their own passions and interests. The career prospects are also vast, which means: following graduation you could be working in various professional environments - from laboratories and hospitals, to offices and schools. This plethora of future prospects was a big motivating factor for my decision to study Biomedical Science.

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