Q&A with Mikayla Angel, a Former Unilever Intern Turned Unilever Future Leader
Mikayla Angel is a former Unilever intern and now in her first year of Unilever’s Future Leaders Program, which provides young professions with challenging and purposeful opportunities that accelerate their ability to take on business leadership roles. Mikayla is a Customer Development Unilever Future Leader and currently in her first rotation—as a sales analyst for Dollar General, a Unilever customer. Recently, we spoke with Mikayla about her internship with the firm, her current role, her recommendations for prospective Unilever interns, and more. Below is an edited version of that conversation.
Vault: Can you talk a little about your background—where you grew up and went to school?
Mikayla: I’m from Copiague, N.Y., where I went to public school. Then I went to college at the University of Pennsylvania, where I concentrated in management and specialized in organizational effectiveness and minored in religious studies. While at UPenn, I interned and worked in different sectors and industries, from social entrepreneurship to theater to consumer product goods.
What specifically attracted you to an internship with Unilever and why did you choose it over others?
After interning at a global nonprofit’s local Mexico office, I knew that I wanted to work for a company where purpose was built into the values. Also, I wanted to be in a large company, which is what prompted me to apply for Unilever’s internship program and part of the reason I said yes to the UFL program.
Could you talk about your internship with Unilever—what types of projects did you work on and what would you say were the best aspects of the internship?
I was the first class of remote internships (summer 2020). I worked on a project for the cash-strapped consumer in frozen novelties (Klondike, Popsicle, Good Humor) and recommended placing innovations in strategic channels and launching new innovations. I also had a mini-project diving into e-commerce and delivery ice cream. Skills-wise, I had to work much harder to build a network than if I was in person, but colleagues were always willing and ready to have one-on-ones added to their calendar. And my intern class had social events set up by our committee to meet with senior professionals and one another.
Do you feel like your internship prepared you for your full-time role?
I think the values of openness, adaptability, and purpose run deep within the organization throughout every team, and I think my internship prepared me for Unilever’s culture. But there are so many teams and functions within Unilever that the skillset is completely different! My internship and full-time role are in completely different teams of the business, and my day-to-day skills are completely different than what I did in my internship. But the importance of networking and openness within each team have stayed the same.
Regarding your current role, what does a typical day in your life look like?
A typical workday for me looks like this:
8 a.m. Wake up and get ready while having a coffee and breakfast.
9 a.m. Focus time to complete reports for the team.
11 a.m. Prep for afternoon meetings
11:30 a.m. Lunch break! I’ll usually make a grain bowl or sandwich.
12:30 p.m. Meeting time.
2 p.m. Follow-ups for meetings and time to do projects. Projects are my favorite duty because they help me create insights for our customer business managers with consumers in mind.
5 p.m. Send final emails.
5:30 p.m. Log off.
Could you speak about your current work/life balance and some of the most effective informal and formal work/life initiatives at Unilever?
Flexible work hours at Unilever are one of my favorite benefits. I think when you’re first starting out at a job, it’s really easy to feel anxious about taking time off or a sick day. Our flexible work hours help create a culture where my managers and teammates have been kind and understanding when I’m sick and eager to hear about my plans for my time off. Another favorite work/life balance initiative is our core hours—we have protected hours on Wednesdays between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to ensure that there’s time to get work done.
Could you speak a little about the formal and informal mentoring at Unilever?
Networking and mentorship are built into the internship program and UFL programs. Mentees decide how frequently they’d like to meet with their mentors in the UFL program. And the structures for mentorship are set up by Unilever, but formal mentorship is led by you. I’ve found a lot of joy in informal mentorship opportunities, choosing to align with people who I’d maybe met only once and then realizing we had similar outlooks on careers and life.
Do you have any recommendations for undergraduate students looking to join one of Unilever’s brands as an intern? What do you recommend students should consider when deciding which firm to join as an intern?
If you're looking for an internship at Unilever, my advice is to keep your eyes peeled—our internships drop pretty early in the summer. Also, do the case study prep, as it’ll help during the interview process, and bring your case study opinion. When deciding which firms to join as an intern, consider looking at a range of industries to get a good sense of what aspects of work you like and dislike. And read up on mergers and acquisitions when interview prepping. It helps to see the company briefs and get ahead by understanding industry language.
What can students do to make the most of their internships?
During your internships, I implore you to network authentically, bringing up things you care about or have genuine concerns about. This will make your connections last and be more beneficial for you and the people you meet. And it’s okay to meet people at work you don’t necessarily vibe with! Post-internships, it’s important to think critically about what you liked about your internships and what you didn’t. Then, when you’re looking for full-time roles, you’ll have a good idea of what kind of cultures you actually enjoy.
This post was sponsored by Unilever.