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Participant Info

Company
Unilever Canada
Location
Bramalea (Brampton)
Position
Quality Assurance (QA) Specialist
Work Term
May 2011 - June 2012
What are your daily responsibilities?
-Daily reporting of quality deviation incidents related to Sidekicks (dry rice and noodles), powdered soups, and powdered sauces -Daily reporting of Safety and Environmental incidents occurring at the facility -Tracking of quality incident types and projections of future incidents -Analyzing salt concentration of powdered mix samples -Performing weight validation tests on different products -Preparing lab samples to be shipped to R&D facilities -Most days were spent working on whatever the active project of the time was
What were some projects you were involved in?
-Led a North American consumer complaints reduction project on the 3rd highest plant-related issue for 7-months; involved management of supervisors from 3 different departments as well as an external consultant on the subject matter. Also used TPM (Total Productive Maintenance) techniques (such as 12 step Kaizen) to manage the flow of the project -Validation of continuous X-ray system for foreign material detection in products -Creation of a new consumer complaints tracking database utilizing macros and Excel programming -Implementation of new Consumer Relevant Quality Standards testing for operators
What were strong points of your interview? Did grades matter?
-Evidence of initiative (e.g. extra-curricular activity, stories from teamwork experiences where I went above and beyond the requirements) was essential to getting the job -Demonstrating a history of fast learning was necessary since all of the information was delivered in a fast-paced manner -Ability to perform simple root cause analysis (i.e. if something is wrong with product packaging, how do you start going about figuring out what?) -Evidence of healthy team dynamics was important as well -Grades were not of any importance
Which skill sets/courses were most relevant to your position?
Statistics and Programming were the 2 courses that were most applicable to my position. A lot of the job involved working with Microsoft Excel and Access and the more I could create functionality with in-cell and macros programming the faster I could do work and add value to my position. Statistics was valuable since I worked in a manufacturing environment and most analysis is done on the scale of hundreds or thousands of units. Food Engineering was also somewhat relevant with respect to concepts of sanitary design and GMP (Good Manufacturing Processes).
What did your company expect from you as a 2nd/3rd year co-op student?
-Lots of self-management when it came to completing tasks -Ability to identify and resolve issues as they came up independently -Communicating with employees of incredibly diverse educational and experiential backgrounds -A portion of repetitive work (filing, data reporting, salt and weight testing)
Did you like your overall PEY experience? Why or why not?
Overall, although I learned a great deal from the experience (technically, organizationally, and personally), I didn't enjoy my experience. Work-life balance was a key issue with the environment there. A lot of work was expected to be done, usually on somewhat arbitrary deadlines. Stress levels overall were generally high and because a lot of projects would always be introduced, some would be scrapped before completion. From a technical perspective, the work was also not incredibly challenging or directly related to Chemical Engineering (it was more of an Industrial Engineering position).
One fun fact about your job?
Free Sidekicks and cheap Unilever products
Salary Range
$35000 a year
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