Harrison is the first ever winner of the Male Undergraduate of the Year Award with L'Oreal!

It all started when I checked through my university emails, with one particular email catching my eye – Male Undergraduate of the Year. The more I read, the more I became curious; curious at the prospect of me actually winning this outstanding award and gaining an internship with L’Oréal, including a week in Paris. Applying, for me, was a no-brainer; being in Brussels on my year abroad, I had just one summer left to gain some valuable work experience before graduating.

The hours I spent fine-tuning my application and completing assessments paid off and L’Oréal invited me to their assessment day. Throughout the day, I met some of L’Oréal’s staff from across the company and what struck me most was how wide a variety of people from such diverse backgrounds worked there. Not only that but how, from the very first day of this potential internship, I would be thrown in at the deep end, and given real and valuable work to be done; more than photocopying or making another cup of coffee – I would be an intrinsic part of the L’Oréal team. Not that I needed any motivation, but this factor certainly encouraged me to perform to the best of my ability throughout the day.

The very next morning, I received the all-important phone call. I had made it to the top ten! When the day of the awards ceremony finally arrived, excitement and anticipation filled the room. Listening to Fiona Bruce discuss her career and the various paths she had taken along the way was truly inspiring. I felt proud, fortunate and extremely grateful to be sat around a table filled with some amazing students as well as more staff from L’Oréal who couldn’t help but be excited for each and every one of us!

When the time came and the managing director of L’Oréal UK & Ireland, Michel Brousset, read out my name, I was astounded. Even when taking photos with Fiona Bruce or while she spoke about my achievements and skills that had led me to win this award, I was still in disbelief. Only on the long, overnight bus back to Brussels did it truly sink in. I’m the Male Undergraduate of the Year and my journey starts here.

Our Male Undergraduate of the Year, Harrison Dent, tells us what he's been up to since winning the award!

What a summer it has been for me! While it seems only yesterday that the managing director of L’Oréal UK & Ireland read out my name at the 2015 Undergraduate of the Year Awards ceremony, so much has happened and I have come so far since that moment.

Straight from the morning of my first day with L’Oréal, I was inducted into the Giorgio Armani fragrances team and given real responsibilities and a very real workload. Day-to-day administrative tasks were, in fact, kept to a minimum; instead, I was given big project work, from allocating and distributing Christmas gifting elements following complex retail analysis to conducting assessments and analysis on a brand’s promotional performance to adapt and enhance their promotional strategies.

I would even spend time out of the office, analysing the market from a consumer’s perspective and feeding back my findings to the division’s managing director. Every task that I carried out added value in some way and that made myself, as an intern, feel valued and essential – something that is often hard to come by in larger companies.

It has to be said, a marketing internship with Armani fragrances does not mean a marketing internship with Armani fragrances. I was carrying out tasks relating to finance, sales, logistics and commercial to name but a few; I was even given the chance to work across a few of L’Oréal’s designer fragrance brands rather than simply remaining with Armani Fragrances, from Diesel to Ralph Lauren and even Viktor & Rolf.

As part of winning the award, I was also lucky enough to spend a few days in Paris, meeting various members of senior management and shadowing them in certain meetings, giving me a wider understanding of the company as a whole. Upon my return, I was given the chance to have lunch with Michel Brousset, MD of L’Oréal UK&I and discuss with him my experience with the company, his views on certain brands and my future career; it felt surreal to be eating fish and chips with the top dog of L’Oréal discussing what my future with the company could entail.

Towards the end of my internship, I applied for the management trainee scheme that would begin after I graduated. As I was already integrated into the company, the application process was extremely straightforward. After a short presentation of my work and a brief interview process, I was accepted onto the graduate scheme! It took a while to sink in that before my final year at university had begun, I had already secured a position on a graduate scheme for the following year!

I can honestly say that working for L’Oréal has given me some amazing opportunities and has provided me with a brilliant platform from which to launch a future career. The company as a whole supports its employees in any and every way possible and makes each and every person from the top to the bottom feel valued and important. Although I knew little about neither the beauty industry nor marketing in general before I joined, I can now say that I have a passion for both and cannot wait to start next year’s graduate scheme. Applying for the Male Undergraduate of the Year Award is turning out to be one the best decisions I have ever made in terms of my future career!

Where are they now?

Assistant product manager, trade marketing, Lancôme.