-Driving development and performance
The star rating system for this question ranks 1 as "A Struggle" and 10 as the "Best Job Ever". The Aldi scheme has without a doubt been the most challenging experience of my life but it is this challenge, and overcoming said challenges which make it rewarding in terms of both development and achievement.
Overall I loved the placement due to the responsibility, exposure and challenging environment. However there will be times in which those traits appear negative in the short term!
I was given real responsibility regarding pressing issues the business was facing. As a result, I know for certain that the work I did was used with lasting effect, ranging from proposing sites for future stores (which Aldi bid over £1 million for) to amending delivery schedules throughout the region and much more. In this sense, I felt very valued.
However, Aldi is a very corporate environment. The star rating system ranks 1 as "A Stranger" and 10 as "Like Family". The corporate environment means that no one would consider workplace relations "like family". You don't need to feel like family to feel valued. The teams in store are largely very close but the more senior you are in the hierarchy, the more formal your relations. That being said, excelling in your role will bring respect and praise from colleagues and direct leaders as per Aldi's Management System.
Specifically, yes I felt very valued.
Aldi has recently introduced a structured training programme in which Industrial Placement students and Trainee Area Managers are graded on performance and given feedback to focus on development.
I was assigned an Area Manager as a mentor throughout my year. He acted as my day to day contact. The time and resources that was invested in my ongoing development in terms of allocating a mentor alone is phenomenal given their responsibilities. This is testament to the training and focus on development Aldi places to employees, new and old.
I also had regular formal and informal reviews and updates with my Area Manager mentor, my direct leader (Store Operations Director) and a final review with the MD for the region towards the end of the year.
Very. As mentioned, the responsibility throughout the year was significant. This meant that there wasn't an unproductive second in the 50 + hour working week.
Aldi presses the employee to act as if their store(s) are their own business. With this mind-set, I ensured every hour of the day was of value.
During my time in store I acted as Store Manager. I therefore assumed all of the responsibilities such as leading people and ensuring compliance. These tasks are no mean feat and will ensure you remain busy!
The responsibility was huge and the pace of responsibility was equally as significant.
During store time you rise through the ranks over a matter of weeks before being given the keys to the store and tasked with running it. Generally, it takes years to become an Assistant Manager yet I was acting as an Assistant Manager after two months before being the sole Store Manager. I had the keys to a store generating £300,000 + a week and was leading experienced people. The responsibility is enormous and equally as rewarding.
I completed various ad-hoc project work in Head Office through rotating in departments such as Store Operations, Logistics, Finance, Property and Trading. All projects are real, needed and valued and you report directly to the respective Director responsible for each department.
Lastly, I presented along with the other Placement students to the General Managing Director for the UK who visited the region.
I have already seen the benefit this year has had on my academic performance. I received a mid 2:1 in my second year and received a first for the assignments I did during my placement. This placement year has allowed me to truly see theory in practice which has not only brought textbooks to life but aided my development without a doubt.
There is definitely a buzz on the shop floor. Working so closely with your team will create strong professional relations and a positive atmosphere.
As mentioned, Aldi is a corporate environment which was mainly noticed during my time in Head Office. This isn't a negative aspect as such but there is no dress down Fridays or work drinks afterwards as two examples.
Very. The structured training programme really set the expectations for the whole year and was largely stuck to. Of course the demands of the business come first so flexibility is required but largely, it was very well organised.
I had my own Area Manager mentor- an experienced manager who teaches you the role. He not only oversaw my development whilst I was in store but there were months of allocated time one on one learning the role first hand.
I also received regular updates with senior management including Directors and the regional MD. The outcome of all updates focus on development. Access to experienced employees of senior positions giving real advice sums up the amount of investment the business pays into your development.
Placement students have to take the initiative to organise social meetings between themselves. This can be quite difficult during store time as you are spread out across the region. However, we ate out often for lunch during Head Office time and I moved into the same block of flats as another IP.
The regional Head office is near Liverpool so the cost of living was minimal even though I was required to move my living arrangements closer for work.
There is no nightlife.
Minimal as I was so busy!