The placement year at Aldi definitely has its ups and downs. You need to be very resilient in order to gain the most out of the year as you'll have days where you'll question why you chose to do it. However, the placement definitely pushes you to your limits and enables you to achieve things you once might've thought you were unable to. The opportunities which are presented to you allow you to build your skill set better than other companies' placement schemes as you will take on so many varied roles within the company.
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During the 6 months you work in stores it can sometimes be challenging to gain respect and feel valued by your colleagues as you are effectively stepping into the role of their superior from the offset. This poses as a challenge as you are still in training so sometimes your colleagues may feel that you don't yet have enough experience to be leading them.
Additionally, during head office training you will complete various projects for the directors but the work you complete doesn't always feel like it goes to any use or have real impact. Sometimes you feel as though you're being given a task just for the sake of it and on occasions no appreciation is shown for the effort you put in.
At the start of the placement we were told we will constantly receive feedback on our performance but this didn't always materialise.
During the grading weeks you are given thorough feedback each week by your mentor on what you did well and how you can improve. This feedback is very clear and honest which I appreciated. Additionally, during the head office training period, we received some feedback on some project work we had completed.
However, you seem to lose touch with your mentor during the head office training weeks, so no in depth feedback/guidance is provided during those weeks.
During store time you will be busy all day every day. The shifts are long but because you are so busy the days fly!
Within the head office training weeks the pace slows down slightly and the workload becomes more steady. It was interesting to work in an office environment and note the differences between that and a busy retail environment.
Towards the end of the head office period, the projects became relatively sparse as we were told that they didn't really have anything left for us. This is when I felt that we were being given tasks which weren't that meaningful and were just to fill the time.
The amount of responsibility you are given is more than what you would receive in other companies right from the start. Aldi puts their trust in you from the offset as you are in the position of a leader. Knowing that others have this confidence in you to do well and handle this responsibility enables you to excel in my opinion.
This is probably the best thing about the placement year. The level of responsibility I have been given has allowed me to develop my skills and grow beyond what I initially imagined at the start of the placement.
I have developed such as wide skill set over the course of this year that employers in the future would value. The transferrable skills I have developed will definitely enable me to excel in many job roles.
I also believe that the placement year will enhance my academic studies when I complete my final year at university.
The people at Aldi come across as very happy, driven and positive. However, as you spend more time with them you realise this shouldn't always be taken at face value.
Sometimes morale can be low, for example in stores the amount of pressure affects the whole team and the atmosphere can be challenging to work and thrive in.
In the office, morale can occasionally be low as many jobs roles are soon to be centralised, meaning that some people may lose their jobs. The pressures within the office can sometimes be felt from others due to workload.
At the beginning of the placement you will receive a training plan, however this does change and you end up doing things you initially didn't expect to be doing.
This caused some confusion with the various departments in head office as the training plan changed but was not communicated to all relevant people. This meant that when we moved departments they weren't expecting us to be with them at that specific time.
If you feel that you are not benefitting from the training you have been provided with, it is definitely better to be vocal as soon as you can. The good thing about Aldi is that because things are changing so frequently, it is possible for your leader to adapt your training plan so that you are benefitting from it.
However, because there are targets which must be achieved, there is a lot of pressure on stores, so specific time for training is rarely possible. A lot of training you receive is on the job and from being 'thrown in at the deep end'. This isn't always a negative thing as personally I learn from doing things so this was sometimes an ideal situation.
At the end of the placement you will find out whether you have a job on the Area Manager graduate scheme. Although this year has been challlenging, I have genuinely learned a lot about myself and the way I work in addition to developing a wide range of skills.
The environment at Aldi allows you to grow rapidly and it helps to be surrounded by such a high calibre of people across the business and I believe this would continue in a future career with Aldi.
In stores, the staff usually organise a Christmas outing, however this varies from store to store.
My fellow placement students and I arranged our own social get together which was nice as we are quite close as a group.
I did not relocate for the placement so I am unable to comment on the local area of the office or stores. However, this will largely vary as Aldi have stores all across the UK so this is obviously dependant on which store you get placed in for your training.
When the other placement students and I arranged our social outing we met up in a nearby city for a meal and drinks which was very lively and not too expensive. There was a wide variety of restaurants/pubs/bars/clubs so you can't go wrong. The city is close to the head office so easily accessible.
There was sometimes charity events which you could participate in to raise money for the Teenage Cancer Trust which Aldi raises a lot of money for.
Other than the Christmas night out arranged by staff themselves there wasn't really anything you could get involved in.