This month we had the opportunity to sit down with Zoe Kealey, Aftersales intern, and Henry Oakes, Finance intern. The pair joined BMW UK earlier this year on the Student Placement Programme to gain work experience and an understanding of how the automotive industry applies to their respective chosen fields of marketing and finance.

What first attracted you to applying to work at BMW?

Zoe: The idea of working for a multinational organisation with an outstanding reputation and brand image was a huge motivator for me when choosing which companies to apply for. This made BMW an obvious choice!

Henry: Ideally, I wanted to secure a placement within the automotive industry, as I have always been interested in this area. Additionally, working for a premium brand was very appealing. I was attracted to BMW as it was clear you would be involved in and responsible for key tasks within the business, not just making cups of tea!

Zoe Kealey

How have you found the application and induction process?

Zoe: The initial application process was extremely clear and easy to understand, consisting of a few questions, submitting my CV and a number of online tests. I was contacted for a telephone interview, which was followed by an invitation to an assessment day. Since arriving at BMW I have had inductions to meet all of the departments and teams that I will be in close contact with, as well as at several agencies with whom we will be in contact with throughout the year. This made me feel extremely welcomed and involved in the business from the start.

Henry: The whole process has been very smooth – having initially applied for the position in October time, I was invited to an assessment centre in December. This was a great opportunity to gain a real understanding for the culture of the company, which further peaked my interest in the placement. After all of the Student Placement vacancies had been filled, we attended an induction day over Easter. It was helpful meeting the other interns and the teams we would be working with before our official first day.

How have you found your first month working for BMW?

Zoe: My first month at BMW was everything I expected it to be – a lot of information but also a lot of fun! Everyone was so welcoming, which made it a lot easier. It was intimidating at first of course, but having the first month as a handover period with the previous intern helped me to settle in to both the work and surroundings at a steady pace. I am now into my second month at BMW and I couldn’t be more excited for what’s to come in the upcoming year.

Henry: My first month in the company was excellent – it’s been really valuable putting into practice what we have been taught at University. I spent my first month shadowing the previous intern, which helped me settle in. I was also introduced to a wealth of contacts across the business, all of whom were more than happy to sit down with me and explain their role and how everything fits together in the business.

Henry Oakes

What does a typical day at BMW entail for you?

Zoe: A normal day in the office for me is never the same. Normally I would be dealing with incoming emails regarding the BMW, MINI and Motorrad direct stores. I manage the appearance, listings and any necessary alterations to these sites on a daily basis. I also organise upcoming offers and sales for the sites (e.g. Black Friday and Christmas sales) meaning I am often in close contact with the Aftersales Digital Marketing Team. It’s great being able to analyse the sales that are made through these sites on a weekly basis – for example I launched a ‘Summer Luggage Sale’ during my first month, taking advantage of the summer holidays!

Henry: The days vary greatly within the BMW Finance team. There are a set number of core tasks that I deal with on a daily basis, as well as a number of daily ad-hoc requests. I work with all of the teams within Finance to provide extra help on any tasks they may have, including: Operational Finance, Overheads, Consolidation and Reporting and Profit Controlling. This allows me to get a good understanding of all areas of finance, and to see how each function is dependent on the others. The first week of each month is always the busiest with a number of month-end related tasks.

What do you hope to gain from the BMW Student Placement over the next year?

Zoe: Firstly, I feel so lucky to have been given the opportunity to work at BMW, so over the next year I am adamant that I am going to grab every opportunity available. I am hoping to develop across the board including communication, computer and negotiation skills, as well as build my confidence within the work place. Over the year I am also hoping to experience a day within each department by shadowing several different managers. I feel this will broaden my opportunities and understanding of what I want to do after finishing University.

Henry: I hope to gain a wealth of knowledge and transferable skills that I will be able to take forward into my final year of University, and then hopefully into a Graduate or Speed-Up position within the company. I would also like to gain a greater insight into different areas of such a large company to see how different departments work together and communicate with each other. This would provide some context to the theories and concepts that I have learnt at University. Most importantly, I want to enjoy the placement and take full advantage of all the opportunities available to me.

Henry Oakes and Zoe Kealey

Thank you to both Zoe and Henry for taking the time to speak with us.

There is a fantastic range of exciting career opportunities available throughout our BMW Centres, manufacturing plants and head office. Visit the BMW Careers website and find yours today.

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