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Internship Stories: Taking a year out in Industry

This time last year I was writing assessments, feeling the pressure to find an internship for the summer- I had absolutely no idea where to start. My primary experience at this point had been selling financial contracts for mobile phones, so I began looking for similar companies.

Volkswagen Financial Services came up, and I browsed the undergraduate job listings until I came across a Customer Engagement placement. After a few months in the application process, I got the call to say I was successful among the 1,500 applicants for the programme!

My first few months were tough. Days consisted of meeting people from all over the company, learning about how they got to where they are now, all whilst learning my new job responsibilities from the predecessor. It was overwhelming- I had no prior corporate experience and it felt like learning a whole new language. As time went on, however, I learnt to manage my workload and embrace the hybrid work culture.

While working full-time and trying to adjust, I also made the decision to keep my retail job at Three Mobile as security for when I finished the placement. At first, I struggled to separate the two, although now I feel confident that I made the right decision as it aligns with my future plans to complete a graduate scheme in the telecommunications industry.

A huge part of the placement for me has been the cohort of 47 other undergraduates, all working in different roles across the business. We’ve created such a strong support system and are always there to lend a helping hand to each other. It’s not all work and no play though- there’s a social event after work almost every day and I feel as though I’ve made friends for life.

My particular role as a Customer Engagement Executive involves ensuring our customers have a positive experience that builds loyalty. Each quarter I communicate with our brands (VW, VWCV, Audi, SEAT, ŜKODA, Porsche, Bentley, and Lamborghini) to manage promotional campaigns for existing customers and work with an agency to input these into a parity software that retailers use to map clients into new finance agreements. I also work closely with the Aftersales team and recently completed a root cause analysis piece on one of our service plan products. From this, I have had the opportunity to improve the product and create an easier user experience.

Throughout this, I have felt incredibly supported by not only my team but the wider company, and it is clear they value the undergraduates as integral players. The CEO, Mike Todd, has made sure to take time out and ensure we feel appreciated, keeping in contact and having conversations to improve the scheme.

November saw the first in-person All Staff Update since the pandemic and was an incredible experience to network and learn more about the exciting future of VWFS. The event began with an inspiring talk from Sam Conniff, writer of ‘Be More Pirate’, who encouraged us to raise our voices and be heard within the organisation.

Following this, a new internal D&I podcast had its debut named ‘Can I Say That?’ which invites guests on to share their personal and professional experiences. Opportunity to vote on future benefits for staff also created a great discussion on the changing world and the need for constant revision.

Despite being an undergraduate on a fixed one-year contract, I felt incredibly included in every aspect of the event.

I cannot recommend a placement at VWFS enough. I have learnt so much about myself and my capabilities as a professional and feel ready to come back to Pearson with a new outlook next September. While it’s been great to gain experience in the marketing field, the real value has come from working in an organisation that truly values its people and provides constant opportunities to grow and learn.

The applications for the 2023/2024 cohort are currently live and I encourage everybody to take a look and see where it goes. Please feel free to give me a message on LinkedIn if there is any way I can offer support during the application process.


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