At Czarnikow we place openness, inclusion and curiosity at the heart of everything we do. That’s why every year we run a year-long internship programme designed around giving those eager to experience a fast-paced work environment before graduation a head start once they graduate. The Czarnikow internship equips graduates with a diverse set of new skills and gives them an insight into how a supply chain service company with a global reach operates.
However it’s not simply about what we can offer young people: the benefits to each side are equal. The interns form an essential part of the Czarnikow team and bring fresh ideas, approaches and experiences to our ever-evolving business. It is by sharing such experiences and developing a shared knowledge platform that we can continue to thrive as market leaders. We spoke to our current intake to find out more about their experiences over the last year.
Over the past year in the London office we have had six interns across a range of teams: Accounts, HR, Operations, IT and Trade Finance. Participants are recruited based on intern interest and company need. This means that every year is different, offering flexibility and ensuring that the programme is always optimised to be as relevant as possible for both sides. From their first day, the interns work alongside employees at all levels in our open plan office and take on the same tasks as their colleagues. For example Amelia, intern in the London Operations team, has as much day to day interaction with clients as her colleagues. This ‘learn by doing’ strategy does more than plunge young people in at the deep end: it ensures that from the start of the programme, they are fully involved in the business and can learn from experience. As IT intern in London, Kane Dharan, explained:
Uni consisted of learning various areas but not actually getting to put the knowledge into practice. The internship on the other hand not only provided me the opportunities to enhance my knowledge in certain fields but to actually implement it.
Czarnikow’s unique position as a global supply chain creates an environment where interns are in contact with people from all around the world, introducing them to new cultures, customs and ways of doing business. This aspect is one of the most exciting of Czarnikow’s attributes, and has been of huge importance to the interns who have learnt from their peers in London and from across the globe. On a daily basis, workers in most of our teams are in constant conversation with suppliers, buyers, and colleagues around the world. This opportunity to connect with the rest of the world is exciting to any student, as is being based in the business hub of central London.
The specialised market that we operate in is something that, despite assumptions, not many employees come to Czarnikow with experience of. This is something that makes joining our team so dynamic, but is a steep learning curve for our interns. They are called on to quickly become comfortable with initial inexperience and to work with curiosity, drive and an open mind. In order to learn, interns quickly adapt to the fact that they won’t always succeed at something immediately. HR intern at our London office, Sophie Cross, explained how:
As an intern you’re not expected to know anything when you first join, so making lots of mistakes is expected to begin with. Also having the confidence to ask questions when you’re not sure about something… Czarnikow has a learning culture where everyone is happy to share their knowledge with you and answer any questions you may have.
This learning culture makes the Czarnikow internship programme unique. There is immediate access to directors and colleagues through our open plan office, with an emphasis on collaboration between teams and individuals alike. Even at the most senior level, both the CEO and CFO open door policies. This community feel allows interns to get the most out of their year, by asking for advice and guidance from colleagues at any level and being able to implement this learning in the work environment.
Parts of a Whole
Although each intern is attached to a specific department, they also learn about how the company operates as a whole. This is done through constant exposure to other teams, and organised events. ‘Talk Sugar’ lunches are hosted once a month, where the team leaders take the interns and new joiners through what they do on a daily basis. The talks have been noted as a highlight of the internship, and have allowed the interns to become more settled in their various roles and integrated with the company as a whole. These are great opportunities for any questions regarding the function of a specific department, and the interns become familiar with how each team complements one another towards a common goal. They can gain a clearer understanding of which direction they’d like their careers to develop outside of their own department.
Learning for the Future
Developing high performance work practices is part of the learning process and Kay Edozie, Trade Finance intern in London, shared that, “Using effective time management to deliver what is best for the company and for the team has been a challenge – one that I have strived to achieve from the very beginning, and will carry forwards”. In addition, adapting to the work environment was something that all interns noted was a challenge. Many mentioned the new experience of a full working day five days a week as something that was daunting at first but became comfortable over time.
Overall, the aspect of themselves that the interns have noticed change the most is their confidence, as over the course of the year they have performed many tasks that have pushed them out of their comfort zones. The presentations required of all interns and were watched by the senior management were a prime example of the team rising to the challenge, and overcoming their fear demonstrated that they are capable of more than they may have given themselves credit for.
As a company, we care about building a better and more sustainable world. To promote this, we work closely with Charity Partners and the interns are a key part of this effort. They play a leading role in organising and running City Giving Day, an incentive run by the Lord Mayor’s Appeal in London. While our various raffles, drinks trolleys and team competitions consistently raise money for our charitable partners throughout the year, City Giving Day is the highlight of our charitable calendar, so a lot rests on the intern team to deliver a strong fundraising event. In addition, last year three of our interns also took part in the School Enterprise programme, a mentorship programme run by our charity partner Teach a Man to Fish. The Czarnikow mentors, of which there were 21 overall, provided advice and support to school business teams around the world via WhatsApp, encouraging young entrepreneurs to flourish.
Advice for Future Interns
When asked what advice they would give to future interns, our current cohort encouraged applicants to be bold, eager to learn and accepting of new challenges. Sophie recommends that interns, “take every opportunity you can to expand your knowledge and learn”. Others echoed this, by emphasising the need to have an open and inquisitive approach to life at Czarnikow. Most feel they now have a clearer idea of what they’d like to do upon graduation, and all have said they have benefitted from experiencing a working environment first-hand. We look forward to welcoming our new cohort of interns soon.
Are you thinking of applying to our internship? Our current interns share their top tips for a successful year:
- Take every opportunity you can to expand your knowledge and learn. There are so many opportunities within Czarnikow to get involved whether it be charity fundraising, volunteering days or even the Christmas party.
- Go for it. The more you get involved with things the more you will get out of the experience and the more people you will meet. Also, share any ideas you may have along the way as Czarnikow is always looking for a fresh perspective on things and having interns is a great way of doing that.
- Czarnikow is considerate of their employees- the 09:30am starts and complimentary soup on offer in the kitchen are fantastic examples of this, so make sure you take advantage.
- As long as you’ll eager to learn, develop and take on new challenges, you’ll have a fantastic experience at Czarnikow!
Author: Carys Wright, Content Writer