Over the 48 weeks you are given the opportunity to experience many areas of the business including Sales, Warehouse, Stock Management, Admin, Property and Head Office. You will gain valuable expertise while developing key skills such as leadership, management, team work, communication, organisation and time management. It encourages you to take on responsibilities that increase your confidence, assertiveness and decision-making skills.
I thoroughly enjoyed my placement year and will be sad to leave the company. I have had a very unique opportunity to work in several different areas of the business in several different roles. Although i may not have necessarily enjoyed every role, it has certainly been beneficial to help me with some of the decisions i may make in the future in regards to my career after university. I have met some great people throughout the year, all of whom have been extremely helpful and supportive.
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From the very beginning of the placement i was welcomed into the company by all colleagues who were always willing to help me and "show me the ropes".Everyone was very friendly and took an interest in my placement. I was treated like any other employee and as a result i have definitely found great friends in some of my colleagues. Furthermore i was always invited to out of hours social events too.
Throughout the year i was overseen by the regional training manager who was responsible for coordinating the finer details of my placement, such as contacting department managers to make them aware of my arrival into the department etc. His door was always open for me to pop in to ask any questions i may have or deal with any problems i might have had, or even just for a catch-up. When i was introduced into different departments the department manager/supervisor always made plans for the duration of my stay and made other department colleagues aware also. I was well looked after in these departments and always involved in what was going on. If i needed extra assistance they would try their best to make time to assist me, although at the end of the day they still have a job to do and were sometimes very busy. Throughout the year i had regular contact with the training coordinator at head office who again, was mainly there to answer any questions i had.
In most departments i found i was kept busy most of the time and department managers were often very thankful to have an extra pair of hands. However mainly due to the time of year in which i was working in some departments i would have liked to have been kept busier than i was, and sometimes felt managers had to purposefully look for work to do. However that said managers are able to give you advice and recommendations on when is best to enter a department.
If you don't like the idea of responsibility then this placement isn't for you! Responsibility is one of the most fundamental aspects to this placement! By the end of my modules in Store and Warehouse i was running daily shifts, in Property i was working as an acquisitions manager, acquiring land to build new stores and in Stock Management the decisions i made had a huge impact on the availability in our stores, including the liaison with actual suppliers. When completing regional projects i was given brief, necessary information to begin with, but from that moment the completion of the project was totally up to myself.
I have been given the opportunity to work in every department which makes up most retail businesses, giving me a very good overview of a retail business. Therefore allowing me to apply the theory i have learnt in my studies into practical real-life job roles. I also feel this has given me a massive advantage when it comes to applying for jobs after university.
There was a great balance between professionalism and friendly office chat. It was easy to understand crucial times of the day when stress levels were high and uninterrupted hard work was needed to achieve deadlines. But when a more relaxed approach could be taken it was nice to indulge in general conversation with colleagues whilst completing my work.
Between the training team at Head Office and my regional training manager i could not fault the organisation of the placement. Everything was always arranged beforehand and the information filtered through to myself clearly and on time. I always knew what i was doing, when and where. The only downfall would be a lack of communication within the departments and sometimes colleagues i was supposed to be working with had not been made aware of my arrival and did not have anything planned for me. But when this happened they quickly got a plan together.
The company have trained me in every department that i personally chose to spend time in. Within this department i was then trained in every job role which make up the department, starting from the simple introductory roles, working my way up to management roles.
Speaking to placement students before me it is apparent that the majority of these students have been able to return to the company after graduation within decent job roles. Furthermore the training team at Head Office pass round profiles of each student to the regional distribution centres and Head Office upon the completion of the placement, allowing department managers to contact you should they wish to interview you for a permanent job.
I was always in touch with the other placement students via Facebook and LinkedIn and when we met up for national meetings we often took a night off to go out in London. I also took part in several social events with colleagues on a regional level such as nights out and we also went on a glamping trip which was a highlight of the social aspect to my placement.
I lived 10 minutes from my RDC so i was able to live at home saving me alot of money throughout the year. However the North of the country is generally very inexpensive anyway.
In Newton Aycliffe itself there isn't much nightlife at all, just family pubs, however you can easily get to nearby Durham which is a fantastic night out. And if your willing to travel further Newcastle is 45 mins away and my favorite city for a night out.
Sometimes there were charity events organised by the company which you can get involved in. At Christmas time i was able to choose which department's Christmas party i wanted to attend. I chose to attend the Stock Management departments party which involved fancy dress ice skating followed by an evening meal.