Rotational Undergraduate Business Management Programme.
1. To what extent did you enjoy your work placement or internship?
The Lidl placement scheme had a lot to offer with its rotational nature in an intensive period of time. The placement at Lidl was at times enjoyable, but this is very dependant on which region you are based and the support you are given throughout by those in each department.
In a nutshell, it's very exciting to know you are to experience every aspect of a big business retailer like Lidl.
So if you love change and being able to adapt, or just want to experience how a retailer like Lidl operates, putting it simply - this placement is for you.
2. To what extent did you feel valued by your colleagues?
This is very dependant on which region you are based in and the teams in which you join. Some are more accommodating than others, but the majority are willing to invest in your learning and development if you show a real willingness to question things, and getting hands on with the jobs required.
Lidl is an employer which prides itself on great treatment of its employees, and from my perspective - anyone from management upwards are truly invested in with training, company perks, a satisfying salary and lots of opportunities to progress. So as a placement student, in the position that you are (a glorified trainee manager) this is very exciting!
3. To what extent were you given support and guidance by management/your supervisor(s)?
This is dependant on which region you are based, yet again. Talking from my experience, Lidl has systems in place which allow you to easily settle into each team you will be joining, track your development, and most importantly see if there are any issues. These include training plans, weekly progress reports and regular visits/calls from your Regional Training Consultant (RTC). If your RTCs are willing for you to get the most from your time at Lidl, then this shouldn't be an issue for you as these are the people supporting you through the process.
Within the Store and Warehouse experience, your managers are liable for your experience. At times for me poor attention to training by some managers had hindered my time at Lidl, for example I had to move stores due to not receiving the correct training. The advice I'd give is if you feel something isn't right - just ask your RTCs, they will put things right.
4. How busy were you on a daily basis?
In store, you don't even have enough time to hear yourself think. Due to its fast-paced, physically demanding, and customer orientated nature you are left very busy and it's a challenge to say the least. This was my favourite rotation. Whereas this is contrasted when you are based in the Warehouse and offices. The change of pace is noticeable, and at times these two departments tend to have not much to offer to the placement student due to the roles and jobs being filled. Sometimes you do feel like a loose part, and its down to your initiative and self-motivation to pull yourself out of the shadow and ask for work or projects to get involved with.
5. How much responsibility were you given during your placement?
In my case, store only allowed me to work up to a Duty Manager role - which restricted the power I had in store to make decisions. However, as for my time in Head Office we were given lots of responsibility! There were projects which were to make a large impact on the business, and the work we put in was truly valued by the team. I also had the chance to experience time with an Area Manager which was definitely my highlight, but this was due to me asking for this experience. Again, the advice I'd give is prove yourself that you're willing to learn and are keen to do the best job you can - then ask for opportunities to get some responsibility. In a sense responsibility depends on whether the manager is willing to delegate and if you are enthusiastic to take this on board.
6. To what extent did/will the skills you developed, and training you received, assist you in your degree studies and beyond?
Hugely, Lidl equips you with general professionalism and competencies you can show off. This leads to more confidence in yourself, and I owe it to Lidl for distilling in me a new work ethic - which prides itself around productivity - one which will definitely serve me well in my final year at university. There is an endless list of skills you pick up; such as leadership, time management and communication skills to name a few but the one that stands out for me is gaining the sense of adaptability that very few placements will offer. The fact you are always chopping and changing between departments and teams, equips you with an empowerment that you are capable to work with many different people, and adjust to work cultures and environments which the world of study can't physically provide nor does many other placements.
7. What was the general atmosphere in your office?
As the nature of the programme allows you to rotate and move form team to team, this question is a difficult one.
Every rotation was very different. The store had a very down-to-earth feel, with teams which are very friendly and lovely to work with. Regional office for me felt most uncomfortable due the nature of the job and the atmosphere some of the team managers could create. Warehouse offered a more relaxed atmosphere, which was refreshing. I can claim Head Office offered the best atmosphere for me as the teams were young, outgoing, and despite some serious work to be done - there was a light hearted nature when it came to socialising and finding enjoyment in the work at hand.
8. How well organised was the overall work placement or internship set up?
This is perhaps the placement's bigger downfalls. Despite having a general guideline and plan passed down from head office, the managers responsible for delivering these plans were either uninformed of my arrival or hadn't had the experience of training a placement student before. Sometimes I was left to my own devices and had to figure out for myself what I was to learn. On that note, organisation can be deemed very ad-hoc and reactive.
However, I can owe it to store for offering a very organised structure to training - with weekly training events and a very clear learn to apply structure.
9. In terms of personal training and development, to what extent did the company or firm invest in you?
Lidl invests heavily in your development and growth. Whether it be to attend Area Manager meetings, training events or offering you new opportunities to get yourself out of your comfort zone - Lidl has you covered. For example, there was a time we as placement students were provided a training day covering emotional intelligence, which was exclusively for us. You are also empowered to get hands on with management and leadership tasks as this is touched upon in what the training plan outlines.
10. What were the perks on your work placement?
Staff Sales/Staff Shop
11. How appealing are future employment prospects within the organisation?
The company offers great graduate schemes, with opportunity to climb the ladder thereafter. However, our year sees to a cut-down on the range of these schemes. There is now only choice between the General Management Scheme (much of what I have already experienced) with a promise to fast-track. A buying department scheme, and the opportunity to apply directly to roles.
As the company is currently thriving in times of unrivalled growth, there will always be prospects for positions to be filled - and with this placement experience under your belt - I presume you will be heads and shoulders above the rest that apply, having had that foundational experience.
12. Was there a good social scene amongst any fellow placement students/colleagues?
As there were only 2 placement students based in each region across the country it is difficult to have a thriving social scene with eachother.
However, we did have national meetings, where these were great to catchup along with a nice meal and a drink which was all accosted to the company. Head Office was also a great social experience as you were with fellow placement students for the entire two weeks, living in Wimbledon - neighbouring to the bustling city of London.
13. What was the cost of living and socialising in the area you worked in?
Based in the Weston-super-mare region I ended up living in Bristol where prices can be quite unforgiving. However, this depends on where you are willing to go out and if you budget, this shouldn't be a problem wherever you are based.
14. What was the Nightlife like in the area you worked?
Bristol is grand. As this is my hometown anyway, there is much variety here in terms of nightclubs, bars and restaurants. There really is something for everyone. As I was based in Weston-Super Mare - where the RDC (Regional Distribution Centre) is located - nightlife isn't anything to sing and shout about down there. However you're only a 40 min drive to Bristol if you choose to base yourself in Weston.
15. Were there many opportunities to get involved in activities outside of work?
Not many. There was a 5 a side football team in head office which I joined in with. However, in the regions there was little to no outside of work activities, apart from the occasional leaving do and the christmas party. If you are looking for hobby orientated activity, there isn't much to satisfy this I'm afraid.