Lorenzo del Grosso, a BSc Food Science & Nutrition student on an Industrial placement working at Waitrose as a Nutrition Assistant

Lorenzo del Grosso

What is the name of the company you work for and what do they do?

I currently work for Waitrose Ltd. Waitrose are a major UK food retailer and alongside John Lewis Plc are part of the the John Lewis Partnership.

What is your role within the company?

My role within the business is ‘Assistant Nutritionist’, which is a 12 month industrial placement role. The nutrition department sits within the broader Technical and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) team.

Can you please give me an insight into a typical day?

Each day is different as there’s a lot going on at head office. My typical day-to-day involves working on key long term and short term nutrition and health projects, as well as supporting the senior members of the team with their work. The rest of my diary is filled with various department and cross-team meetings, tasting events, conferences, lunches and getting to know my colleagues across the business. We always make time for breaks including a delicious lunch in the partner dining room cooked up by the Waitrose chefs as well as a few coffee breaks.

What do you enjoy the most and do you get involved in any interesting projects?

I really enjoy the communication aspects of the nutrition role, in particular how we communicate nutrition and health messages through our publications such as the Waitrose Weekend and through our product ranges. I’ve recently been working on a small weekly column in the Waitrose Weekend called ‘24 hours’, where we give a nutritionist's verdict to a celebrity’s 24 hour diary. I’ve also enjoyed working alongside graphic designers to produce infographics about healthy eating which we can use to educate our customers and partners. I recently volunteered at the Waitrose Summer Festival too which was a lot of fun!

Why did you want to undertake a year in industry?

The world of food and nutrition is very different on paper to in industry so the year in industry was an opportunity to transfer my skills and knowledge to a working environment, and Waitrose is a fast paced and exciting one to do so. I was really keen to deliver a project -something that I could say that I achieved on my CV. I wanted to improve my self-confidence and organisational skills too.  A big part of the undertaking a placement year for me was to get out of the university bubble for a while - moving to a new city, meeting new people and settling into a 9 to 5 work routine.

What do you think you have got out of this experience so far?

The personal and professional experience I’ve gained is so valuable. I’m working in a team of experts in nutrition and retailing so I’m learning every day. In my role I’ve been given opportunities to visit suppliers as well as conferences and other events. I’m really interested in food blogging, writing and marketing so I’m excited to be able to work with the commercial team in the future. I can see my confidence growing already, especially in communicating with others and getting my point across. I’ve also developed my organisational and time management skills through managing my work diary. On a personal level, I’ve met lovely people and work with 11 other placement students who I’ve become great friends with. I also live with 4 of them in Reading which has been amazing and so much fun.

Do you have any tips and advice to current students thinking of undertaking a year in industry?

My advice would be to find the placement that is right for you. As much as the company are looking for the right student, the company and the role needs to be right for you too. Waitrose feels like a perfect fit for me, and I can see from other students at Leeds that they really fit in with their companies too and are having a great time. I’d also say aim high and don’t be disheartened by the competition. If you’ve worked hard, got a great application and can perform well in the application process you can get yourself a really sought after placement. However, there's a lot of stages in the application process where you can fail so take the time to give yourself the best chance possible; write a great CV and cover letter, practice interview questions, get yourself on LinkedIn, research the company and really prepare for your assessment day. The careers centre at the University of Leeds really helped me with my CV - it looked so much neater and impressive than before. My course also ran a module relating to careers in Food and Nutrition and getting a placement which was invaluable - particularly for the interview practice!