Lieke Vermunt about her Finance Internship

Lieke Vermunt, Finance Intern at Unilever

My name is Lieke Vermunt. I am 21 years old and currently a fourth year Business Economics student with a Bachelor’s degree as of this summer. When I moved out of my parents house I knew I wanted to integrate further into the well-known Tilburg student life. I decided to join the Study Association Asset | Accounting & Finance. Yes indeed, a study association. Something that in my opinion, was all about students who pretended they were having a lot of fun during the introduction days, however were not man enough to participate in the real student life by joining an actual student association.

Today I can proudly say that I am enjoying my membership at Asset | Accounting & Finance. Ever since I joined I have enjoyed myself enormously and now, two years on, I can additionally say that my CV has expanded with my involvement in three different committees. These are, the Promotional Committee, the Financial Business Dinner Committee, and last but not least, the Lustrum Committee. During this time I have learned a lot, I have met tons of new people, and gained different and valuable experiences. My involvement further helped me when I first started looking for an internship last spring.

One of the advantages of being an Active Member of Asset | Accounting & Finance is that the association has a lot of alumni. These people love to help those who are experiencing the same things as they did when they were a student. During the third lustrum I came in touch with some of these Alumni and even just talking about my interests and what was involved in their careers gave me, a lot of information about the possibilities and daily tasks required when working for different firms. I also met some people who worked in companies that I was actually interested in. It was nice to have contact with Alumni that really wanted to help you and show you what was involved in their jobs. I even got an interview out of it!

Unfortunately this interview did not work out for me. However, shortly after I received a message from Asset | Accounting & Finance where an alumnus within Unilever had been in contact expressing their interest for a finance intern. Until that moment I never even considered applying for an internship at Unilever due to the fact that I had always been more interested in Merger & Acquisition and consultancy. Despite this I decided to send a motivation letter. I knew that the idea of working for an international company really appealed to me. It also seemed interesting to work in an environment that had a more defined business approach, one in which a consumer is served through the cooperation of different disciplines.

Currently, I am in my fourth month of my internship in Global R&D Finance. This department is responsible for the planning and control of Unilever’s global Research & Development. At the heart of its activity involves support for effective decision-making, providing input from a financial and economic perspective as well as from a strategic point of view. Additionally, the team is responsible for the integrity of analyses, development of financial and administrative controls and reporting of results to various Unilever Category Management and Leadership Teams. My work involves the support of the Financial Business Partners of the team by providing them with training and programmed Excel files which they can use for their own tasks. I also research into complex cost models, which will down the line help the Business Partners make improved forecasts’.

What amazes me the most is Unilever’s dynamic cultural environment. One in which people cooperate with each other in an open, informal and performance oriented manner. It’s been great to have experience working in finance with a business perspective, where I’m actually exposed to some of the great innovations that the researchers in Unilever are working on. Through my experiences so far, I can say that it’s made a big difference in my motivation to go out there. Now I am aware that I actually do like to work in a friendly environment instead of the harsh world of M&A and consultancy. However, I guess that is something I can only find out for sure by also experiencing those kinds of jobs.

My advice for you would be to explore your possibilities and try and find some work experience in the fields you’re interested in which allow you to get involved in real hands-on tasks’ similar to what you will do in an internship. Even though you may think you know what you want the more experiences you get the more it can help confirm your interests or change them entirely. You do not have to stay there for six months, like I do in Unilever You will already have a good idea if  a job or company appeals to you within a few months. I would also say do not forget to use your network. There are always people around you that were once in your place that have moved up and can give you information about the steps they have taken.  Do not hesitate to ask because I am sure they would love to help you. At least, I would ;).