At the beginning of the year I took the opportunity to take part in a placement with The Body Shop as part of my dissertation research into ethical trading. This is an exciting chance to get experience in a growing sector. So, I updated my CV and wrote a covering letter to show how enthusiastic I was about the placement, and explained how I would use the research for my dissertation.
After this process I had to wait nervously for a few weeks for the applications to be processed and eventually found out that I had been successful!
Since then I’ve been on a field trip with the Geography Department, sat 3 exams and handed in over 16 000 words of coursework and finally celebrated the end of my second year of university.
Yet throughout this hectic time, I’ve planned the core parts of my research with my supervisor (which involves a lot of reading). I also went to the London office of The Body Shop to discuss the direction of research, arrange work dates and locations (my time will be split between the London Office and Littlehampton Head Office). Furthermore I created a questionnaire on ethical trading. I already feel like I need a break and it’s only just beginning!
My role in this placement is mainly as a researcher: I am interested in what young people think about the image of companies and how they make shopping decisions; in particular ethical trading, which is where The Body Shop comes in. Ethical trading is how companies create a positive social and environmental impact by trading such as paying workers a fair wage, minimising their carbon footprint etc. The Body Shop has been involved with and organised campaigns about ethical trading for over 25 years; they are the perfect company to link with and use as a case study due to the vast amount of data that is accessible about their campaigns.
As a relatively new area of research, there is a gap in knowledge about young people and ethical trading which is why I am focusing on this, as well as ethical trading campaigns for which The Body Shop has an excellent reputation.
I also hope to gain an insight into how an ethical trading company works – as I approach my final year at university I’m becoming increasingly aware of the need to find a job afterwards! I’m interested in this sector and this experience may help me decide if it is right for me to pursue a career in this area in a year’s time.
During the placement look for updates on the blog and twitter (#rhulworkdiss) and wish me luck!