Zotefoams Graduate Scheme – 6 Months On

Six months after its introduction the Zotefoams Graduate Scheme is proving to be a great success. The company has a large R&D function, within which we offer up to four graduate places each year for a two-year structured development scheme. The aim of the programme is to provide a broad business experience and the insight to take the right step into a full-time role at the end of the programme.

This year’s intake has worked in materials testing, technical support and project management while also taking part in a shadowing programme designed to expose them to all areas of the business. In the second year, candidates will take a commercial or operational role – such as quality, internal sales or process engineering – where they will learn to apply materials knowledge to other areas of the business.

Here two of our graduates tell us how they’re getting on in their roles.

1. How are you finding your experience so far at Zotefoams?

Rosalind De Souza (Project Management Assistant): I am really enjoying my time at Zotefoams. My role and my position on the Graduate Scheme has enabled me to learn and develop as a person, and to experience both an industrial and corporate working environment. I interact with a wide variety of people from all areas of the company, and they have all been welcoming and willing to help me understand things better.

Max Brill (Technical Support Engineer): I am very happy with the progression on the graduate scheme and the scope for learning and experiencing different parts of the company. I enjoy coming into work and progressing my projects and customer enquiries, and the satisfaction of completing the tasks set by myself and others.

2. What have you learnt so far?

Rosalind De Souza (Technical Support Engineer): My role in the Project Management Office has enabled me to learn about many of the products the company is working on, and to follow them through their development and into full production. I’ve built up my confidence in communicating with people, presenting and chairing meetings, writing minutes, emails and other communications, as well as becoming skilled in the APQP project management tool.

I’ve also experienced what various departments do and how their work contributes to the running and growth of the business. I’ve picked up on many other things too, from how we approach the design of a new product to how it then moves through production on its way to becoming a finished foam product.

Max Brill (Technical Support Engineer): Company specifically, I have learned all about our products, our processes, our testing and all the technical details of these to allow me to inform our customers about our foams. In terms of personal development, I have massively improved my ability to communicate verbally and in writing with both colleagues and customers.

3. What do you enjoy most?

Rosalind De Souza (Technical Support Engineer): Being part of a team that has a wide variety of skills and knowledge to bring to the project. I learn about things I would not otherwise be exposed to and it’s rewarding to contribute to the project and help move it forward.  I have particularly enjoyed the shadowing programme, which has allowed me to experience different areas of production in the factory – the hands-on experience was both fun and educational.

Max Brill (Technical Support Engineer): Being given the opportunity to lead my own project on one of our flammability tests, as well as representing our company at conferences across the world. Additionally, working with customers to help them choose the best foam grades for their specific application is very interesting and rewarding. I very much like the atmosphere in the office and all my colleagues are a pleasure to work with.

4. Why did you apply for the Graduate Scheme?

Rosalind De Souza (Technical Support Engineer): The scheme gives me the opportunity to learn about materials and techniques I’d encountered at university. It also allows me to develop my skills in areas I would not normally experience, helping me understand better where my strengths lie.

Max Brill (Technical Support Engineer): It’s the perfect way to translate theory learned at university into a real-world work environment by receiving constant training and learning by doing.

Zotefoams is just the right size business for a graduate learning environment – large enough to be a global brand yet small enough to feel like you are more than just a cog in the machine, giving the opportunity to work in multiple areas of the business. We’re only six months into the Scheme, yet it feels like our work really matters to the company.