Overall, I throughly enjoyed the Retail Placement Programme. I enjoyed the rotational aspect the most as I was constantly learning new skills and meeting new people. However, I found certain departments less busy than others which meant I felt undervalued and sometimes a bit of a burden within that department.
I felt extremely valued by my fellow colleagues. Every department I worked within I was always welcomed and everyone was more than willing to help or answer any questions I had. My colleagues were very patient with me when I was carrying out new tasks. My colleagues also trusted me by allowing me to allocate stock, conduct telephone interviews, take control of the safe, handle money and run shifts to name a few. I really enjoyed working with everyone I met.
Management within each department were extremely good at introducing me to the department and explaining what the department do on a daily basis. They were always willing to answer questions. I also had two RTCs (Regional Training Consultant) who I could contact at anytime; if I had a problem or question. I believe my RTCs provided the most support throughout the placement due to the fact I knew I could contact them about anything. In terms of training plans, some departments didn't have one or others didn't follow it.
This varied from department to department. I was at my busiest during my time in store and recuritment as I felt like I was actually needed in these departments and my work benefited the department. However, Logistics was my least busy department whereby I struggled to find something to do or else I was given tasks that were pointless and were given to me for the sake of giving me something to do. During my time in Logistics I never had a managerial role or was involed much with the management team, I mostly worked as a Warehouse Operative.
During my time in store I was trained up to a Deputy Manager level which meant I had a lot of responsibility for example, taking the safe, cashing up, ordering, refunds, recalls etc. The customer assistants also relied on me daily if there was an issue and I felt very trusted and valued. I also was given a lot of responsibility within recruitment for example, uploading jobs, conducting telephone interviews and taking part in assessment centres. I was definitely given the most responsibility within these two departments.
The skills I have developed will not necessarily assist my studies but have most certainly improved my professional and personal skills. I believe you cannot teach professional skills but instead you learn them from experience and that is exactly what the placement programme has taught me. My time during Head Office will assist my studies the most. Working within the IT department helped me improved IT skills I did not have previously for example, I was taught about hardware whereas my degree is mostly software based. Furthermore, during my placement I have presented to other placement students and the senior management team on a few occasions thus improving my presentation skills.
The atmosphere in each department was always great!
When applying and attending the Welcome event the placement seemed well organised however, as time went on there was a lot of changes in terms of what department I would rotate to and for how long. Also, the placement project week was suppose to be a project for both placement student to manage from start to finish and present our findings. However, the project was given to a graduate and we just done what we were told. The project was rushed due to the fact we had to attend Head Office for two weeks the same day the project finished. As a result, we still do not know the outcome of the project. Furthermore, during my time in Logistics I was given a training plan which stated what department I would work in during each week. I felt this was badly organised as the manager in each department never knew I was coming which I found awkward.
The company as a whole invests a lot into training and development they even have a team in each RDC. It is evident that training is a very important part of Lidl. I attended a number of training days within the RDC and Leatherhead with the other placement students. Even when you work within store you must complete training on a terminal before you start working on the shop floor.
Future employment with Lidl is appealing as they offer a graduate programme which I am familiar with from my time spent with the current graduates. However, it is very similar to the placement programme in that I would have to spend time within the same departments (some of which I already know I would prefer not to work within) whereas I would prefer to spend more time focusing and training on the department(s) I enjoyed the most. This way I believe I would be able to progress further quickly. Future employment was also appealing during my time in Head Office, due to my degree pathway, the IT department encouraged me to apply for a job once I have graduated.
On several occasions all the placement students from each Region across the UK met up in London to take part in training etc. During this time we stayed overnight where we had dinner and drinks together (all paid for by the company) which was very enjoyable. I also had a good social relationship with the graduates and some of my younger colleagues whereby we would go out in London together or for food during our breaks. During my time in sales we had a summer party which was good fun!
For this placement I relocated to London, I expected the cost of living to be expensive however, my salary was very good compared to others on placement so I thought I would be fine. However, the cost of living is much higher than I expected therefore it was a struggle to get through the month without asking my parents for money. Where I lived had great transport links into and around central London. I would have liked to socialise more than I did however, I couldn't afford to.
The area I spent most of my time working in was situation in an industrial area. Most of the other businesses surrounding my RDC were also RDCs with numerous lorries passing 24/7. There was no nightlife in this area.
The activities I was involved in outside of work were organised by myself, another placement student or graduate. We had a group chat for our little circle of friends within the region were we organsied nights out etc. As mentioned above, we didn't have the disposable income to spend on these events.