Staffordshire University graduate internship case study

"My internship with Options Management has provided me with some fantastic commercial experience within the vending industry and I'm glad I was selected for the placement. I'm developing my knowledge and skills in many different ways by being part of such a forward-thinking project. The opportunity to be able to advance my qualifications through further development of the system is an exciting prospect."

James, talking about his internship experience.

"James has been a real asset to Options Management and a committed member of the team. His determination, enthusiasm and skills have enabled him to navigate our software systems and play an important part in the development of our new system. Due to the success of the internship through Staffordshire University we are keen to progress the R&D aspects of the project through a KTP."

Paul Ure, Managing Director at Options Management Ltd

Staffordshire University have been successfully running paid graduate internship schemes since 2011 and have placed over 200 graduates in local and regional organisations.

Through their Unitemps recruitment agency, the University is able to help employers to recruit work ready interns to fill a range of roles across all industry sectors.  The internship scheme offers employers the opportunity to 'try before they buy' and make sure that the graduate has the appropriate skills for the position.  The schemes also introduces employers to the benefits of taking on graduates and in further developing their employability skills.

Options Management Ltd are a UK based independent catering and refreshment vending service.  Founded in 1990, the company has grown into a market leader, independent vending business.  In 2012 they were voted 'The Greenest Vending Company in the UK' at the Auto Vending Industry Awards due to their commitment to recycling the used packaging from products sold from their vending machines.  Once the packaging is collected, it is returned to Options Management's £1/2m processing plant in Staffordshire.  This sustainable process adds value to the service offered to customers and is unique within the vending industry.

An internship opportunity for a Business and Data Analyst arose at Options Management to assist in the software development aspects of a system that will radically change the future of innovation in vending and convenience food.  James Barzda, a graduate in International Business, was successfully appointed for the 12 week internship.

The new kiosk vending experience offers consumers a new way to purchase a range of over 200 food and drinks products using a simple key-card or a credit card payment system that utilises advanced software intelligence to tailor selections and offers based on the buyer's preferences and nutritional needs.  This system not only streamlines the buying process and customer experience, but encourages health and wellbeing.  With the ability to be installed in a range of outlets including call centres and workplaces, this revolutionary system is fully adaptable and cost effective for a client who is looking to either enhance their vending services or reduce their catering costs, whilst also offering a 24 hour facility if so required.

Similar systems are already in place in the USA and rapidly growing in popularity, and Options Management remains the only vending company on the market to offer this innovation.

By using specially developed software, Options Management are also able to use accurate data to deliver targeted marketing, through advertising media installed in the Micro Market such as display screens, tablets, smartphones, vouchers and other customer focused incentives.

James's knowledge and skills have been invaluable to the role of Business and Data Analyst.  He has been able to manipulate and adapt existing systems to link in with the operating systems of the kiosk and is playing a key role in managing the implementation of the whole project.  His analytical capabilities provide the ideal skills for the customer intelligence aspects of the system and he has helped to refine the business model to ensure that it delovers on all its financial commitments to the business.

The project has been so successful, that Staffordshire University are now working with Options Management to explore the possibility of a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) that will bring in academic expertise from the University and provide valuable knowledge into the R&D process.  The KTP will also enable James to achieve further educational credentials that could lead to an MSc level qualification.