What it’s really like to be a grad working at L’Oréal
Their staff shop is so discounted it’s basically free
Even if you’ve never worn a smudge of makeup or used an ounce of moisturiser in your life, everyone and their mum has heard of L’Oréal. But behind all the glossy serums, anti-ageing potions and “Because you’re worth it” slogans, what is it actually like to be a grad working at the world’s largest beauty company?
We spoke to Hannah, Kieran and Bertie about what it’s like to work at L’Oréal, and to find out whether it’s really all foundation, mascara and perfume. Turns out, it isn’t.
Hannah, studied Business Administration at Bath
I interned at L’Oréal for six months, and I have now been on the Commercial Graduate Scheme for just over a year. We do three six-month rotations across three different brands within the company. I’m currently on my final rotation, in the professional products division, working for Kérastase.
Having three rotations gives you huge exposure across the company to different divisions, teams and challenges. You get such a broad understanding of not just L’Oréal, but of business in general, because regardless of what industry you’re in, you’ll face similar situations. The key thing about L’Oréal, is that everyone is so willing to give you opportunities to try new things and make your own mark.
My own time here really highlights that. I know a fair amount about social media, as I run my personal Instagram as a ‘fitness influencer’ account. So, despite being somewhat outside of the ‘scope’ of my commercial rotation, I put forward some ideas to the head of Kérastase for how we could improve our skillset as a brand on social media. I’ve now built a social media training plan for both our clients, and for people in-house, from scratch, and I go into the top hair salons in the country and up-skill them in how to successfully use social media for their business, as well as creating original social content. I’ve had a unique grad experience, and it’s this kind of support and independence which makes L’Oréal really special – if you’re happy to put your ideas forward, your managers will really support you.
Also, both interns and the grads are well-respected here. It’s not the cliché where the interns and grads are left with the basic work like making tea and filing. In all of my roles I’ve been given lots of responsibility and have been able to work autonomously.
I was slightly apprehensive before I worked here – seeing the glossy ads, and knowing the industry is so female-dominated, I imagined it might be like the beauty industry is depicted in films, but it’s not at all. Everybody’s energetic, creative, and happy to help, and it’s a really friendly culture.
I think boys often dismiss a company like L’Oréal because the majority of our products are female, but actually, day-to-day, a lot of the jobs here don’t necessarily revolve around what the product specifically is – you could be dealing with finance or sales.
The people I work with are definitely my favourite thing about L’Oréal – I love my job, but I wouldn’t love it as much if I didn’t have the colleagues I have. Like any job, it can be busy and stressful, but it helps to know that every day when you come in there will be friendly faces. I always enjoy going to work, and I’m never bored.
Kieran, studied Accounting and Finance at Southampton
I’m on the grad scheme, and I’m currently a Finance Management Trainee – my second rotation starts next week, so I’m going to our biggest division, which is Consumer Product – it oversees brands like Garnier, Maybelline, and L’Oréal Paris.
Day-to-day, my role is quite varied – I meet a lot of different people. Because pretty much every department has finance elements, I speak to people from all over L’Oréal, in a range of divisions. I also do a digital project which involves me talking to people in Paris, so no two days are the same.
I always wanted to work in finance within a business like L’Oréal because I wanted to be part of a bigger culture, rather than just working for a finance company. A lot of people ask why I’d want to work for a cosmetics company when I have no idea about makeup, but the job is more about the skills you have and how you apply them. If you’ve got knowledge of marketing or finance, then it doesn’t really matter what the end product is – you’re still using the same processes.
Obviously there’s a higher proportion of women here, but there are still quite a lot of men. It’s nice because it feels fresher and more progressive than how you’d imagine a big corporation to be. It’s definitely a friendly and approachable culture too – you can always chat to people on different teams and at different levels – it really isn’t cliquey at all.
The people are definitely one of the best things about working here – I get on really well with my team. It’s a nice environment because I’m not just sitting here staring at a screen – as long as we get everything done, we’re welcome to chat. Also, L’Oréal are pretty flexible with working from home, but honestly I’m always excited to come to work the next day.
There are a lot of perks that come with working here – we’re always first to hear about all the different launches which is very exciting, especially when you see L’Oréal campaigns on TV and the tube. There are also events for our brands, as well as team events where we go for drinks or a pub quiz after work. Oh, and not to mention getting between 60 and 70 per cent discount on our products.
I’d recommend working in finance for L’Oréal because it gives you a breadth of understanding that you just wouldn’t see in a traditional finance role – I’ve learnt a lot more here than I would have working for an accountancy firm.
Bertie, studied German and French at Edinburgh
The L’Oréal grad scheme is very exciting because you move every six months – I’m currently on the commercial rotation. Moving between teams, you feel like you’re working for a new company, but with all of the same, familiar surroundings – it keeps you on your toes. Working at L’Oréal gives you the ultimate foundation for working in any industry, plus there are opportunities to work internationally because we have a presence in most countries in the world.
Although L’Oréal is a beauty company, its portfolio of brands cover so many different sections that the key strengths you can learn here are really useful, whatever industry you go into next. Although our end products are mascara or foundation, the essence of what we do day-to-day gives you really transferrable skills – it includes growing the brand, analysing markets, brand imagery and ethos, developing new events, or exploring consumer behaviour. Every day is different, it’s more than just dealing with cosmetics.
It’s very rewarding seeing the finished product – when you’ve worked towards that moment for six months, you feel really proud. My proudest moment was the first big YSL launch I was part of – it was amazing to see the product through from start to finish. We get the ideas from Paris where the majority of our brands are based, and product managers will launch it with the help of the whole team.
The amount of responsibility, acceptability and also the level of investment that L’Oréal make in you from day one is unparalleled. You’re very much treated as part of the team, so your opinion matters. No matter who you are or where you’re from, your perspective is valid – no two of our consumers are the same, so it helps to look at things through a diverse lens.
My colleagues are amazing – they’re highly motivated and incredibly dynamic. Everyone at L’Oréal is here because they’ve worked hard for it, and it breathes an amazing energy into the company – there’s a common goal of wanting to be better, to grow, and develop the brands we’re working on. The company is a breeding ground for great insights, and you learn a lot.
When you’re applying, just be yourself and do your homework – really read up on all the brands and how the market is doing. If you want to work for a market leader like L’Oréal, you have to show a deeper understanding than just a quick Google search.