Chantelle Johnson

Which company do you work for?

Kettleby Foods (Samworth Brothers)

What is your job?

Commercial Analyst

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

It was easy for me because I was lucky to get this graduate scheme on the first attempt. However, it was a challenge finding a scheme that did not involve relocating across the country.

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

This was not the type of job I anticipated doing when I left university because I was completely set on a technical career. I wanted to do something that linked with my degree but it was surprising how many other departments links to a Food Science degree.

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

On the graduate scheme I was earning what I expected.

Tell us about your experience of starting work.

It was daunting! I had been on an industrial placement scheme with PepsiCo but I knew the environment at Samworth would be very different.

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

My first week was so much better than expected. The team I was in were very welcoming and by Friday I felt like I had been there for years! Samworth do a very good induction programme so I was able to settle in quickly.

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

I learnt a great deal within my first year! Within my first 6 months, I learnt all about quality auditing and how it relates to raw materials. In my second 6 months I learnt about factory processing and managing a team of over 20.

What was the steepest learning curve for you?

The steepest learning curve is always at the start of every placement, as you are put into a role straight away. The steepest one had to be my first few weeks as a team leader: I was given a line to run within a few days. I had to pick things up quickly because the production line cannot stop for too long!

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

My managers have always been good at supporting and pushing me throughout my placements. I have also had some time with the MD of a site to gain some advice.

What do you enjoy most about work?

Mainly the people – I did not expect to make such good friends from work!

What do you enjoy the least or find the hardest?

My team leader placement was definitely the most challenging. It was a very difficult placement as it was around people management. You are provided a line to manage with over 20 people and they knew a lot more about the job than you!

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

I feel that university definitely prepared me for work, especially the sports side funnily enough. Being in a sports committee or group work modules are similar to being in a team at work.

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

This is placement and day dependent. They are never the same. The placement with the most typical day was in production where I would arrive at 5am to set up my line with all the necessary equipment. There was morning meetings to discuss line plans or any issues. At 6am my team would arrive and I would have to check that I had the correct number and gather more if necessary – then the line is started. I would do quality checks on the products throughout the day. There would also be product changeovers, where you have to clean down and change equipment. I would also spend some time training the team to ensure I had enough skills to run the line if anyone was off. At the end of the day we would all clean down the line and I’d thank the team for helping me out – as they normally had to!

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

My advice would be: Don’t panic and apply for everything going – especially if the entries are during coursework deadlines and exams. You will not be able to give the applications the time they need if you do too many and end up not doing well in any.

How would you describe the culture at Samworth Brothers?

Very welcoming, friendly and sometimes a little bit mad – in a good way!