Alex Neale

 PPY profile 

Course studied: BA (Hons) Business and Management
Graduating year: 2020
Placement: Digital Marketing Intern (Professional Products Division) at L’Oreal

Professional Placement Year

Why did you choose to undertake a PPY?

I chose a PPY as I strongly believe it'll help to distinguish me from other candidates when I apply for roles after university. I also think that it acts as an introduction to the working world, to help me work out exactly what path to take.

What does your role entail?

L’Oreal has four divisions: professional products, luxury products, consumer products and active products. Professional products are those that are sold both to hair stylists and to consumers.

My job was to be in charge of all brand emails. This included managing both the branding itself, and various stakeholders.

My role also involved search engine optimisation (SEO). This is one of the ways that brands can maximise their rankings in search results, primarily via Google.

Describe a typical day on your placement

I worked closely with a designer and the email agency that launched the emails. Each email had a specific target in terms of results, and all of these results were recorded and logged onto a tracker. I did lots of testing to optimise results, which throughout my time on placement saw an increase of 49% year-on-year for open rates and 30% year-on-year in click-throughs (who clicks on the email once opened).

This required stakeholder management due to the amount of email campaigns in process. It was very overwhelming to begin with, as I had a lot of responsibility to satisfy the brands, as well as to boost revenue for launches, and supply information to businesses and consumers.

As the year went on, I became much more proactive, which meant I could make more optimisations and tailor the process to each brand to increase results.

How did you find and secure your placement?

I found and applied for my placement at L’Oréal through RateMyPlacement. Once the application had been made with a CV and cover letter, I received an email inviting me to take an online numerical test.

After this, I was invited to an assessment day. I was sent preparatory work – the case study for my presentation.

The assessment day was split into two parts. The morning included an introduction to L’Oréal, presentation, psychometric test and numerical test, followed by a group activity. During the afternoon we had an interview, before finding out the outcome in the coming days.

What have been the best and most challenging aspects of your placement?

The best part of my role was the amount of freedom given to exert my expertise and put it into practice. They were always open to change and I felt respected in the workplace by all employees.

The most challenging aspects were the pressures of deadlines due to the knock-on effects on the brands. Occasionally, this was out of my control; however, in time this got easier as I streamlined various processes.

How has your placement been beneficial?

I learned a lot about what can be done to help search engine optimisation – such as page weight, keywords and locational data – as well as transferable soft skills. The experience was invaluable. It was a challenge at times, but looking back, it was all for the best.

How did the Professional Placement Year support your career aspirations?

I'm delighted to say that I secured a place on the company’s Talent Track scheme, which means that L’Oreal are going to keep in contact and offer potential opportunities to me once I've graduated.

Do you have any advice for students considering a PPY?

Persevere in applying to as many roles as possible. Applications can take time, but the more the better!

If you're invited to an assessment centre, take the time to research both the company's background and the industry – it'll help you stand out when you mention it in an interview.

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