Why did you choose Lidl?
I joined Lidl on the placement programme in 2015. What appealed was that the placement scheme was rotational, quite similar to the graduate scheme. At the time I didn't know what I wanted to do exactly and I didn't even know if retail was the career path I wanted to take. I just wanted to get as much experience as I could, with a company that's growing so fast that opportunities to get ahead just keep on coming. Lidl's clearly at a really exciting time of growth. As someone starting my career, I wanted to have those opportunities to really grow with a business.
What did you wish you'd known before you started at Lidl?
When you join Lidl, they're looking for a certain type of person, rather than a certain set of skills. Naturally, the graduate cohort they employ are the ones with that potential, the leadership, the attitude and mindset. You go through intensive training that covers a lot of the hard skills, but we also cover a range of 'soft skills' like change management, time management, conflict management, which obviously are helpful in all kinds of areas of life. The skills Lidl provides you with, the work ethic, mindset and industry knowledge are second to none.
How was your first few weeks with Lidl?
To begin with - there were a couple of days as part of the national graduate cohort. This was a bit of an ice breaker – a chance to meet each other (around 32 of us) and do some soft-skill training to get to know each other and the business. On Day 3 we went to the Regional Distribution Centre to meet our training consultants, have a tour around, get our uniforms, and we went through our training plans. Then we went straight into our first module - sales, warehouse or supply chain.
What has been your highlight of working for Lidl so far?
Every day, to be honest! Probably my role now, as a trainee Area Manager, with my own district to cover. It's a real opportunity to prove myself, and a role I've wanted to do for a long time. Every day is different, you need a lot of resilience, there are so many unknowns, so much people management involved. I'm enjoying it so much because it's what I've wanted to do ever since I joined the company.
Have there been any surprises during your time at Lidl?
It is hard work. The pay is good but you earn every penny of it - the pace keeps you on your toes. You have to manage your time, and keep your mind set on the opportunities that come with a company that's doing so well. We're busy because we're successful, and Lidl's success is our success.
What advice would you give future applicants?
Research is key. Make sure you fully understand the graduate scheme and what you can bring to it. Careers fairs are a great opportunity to find out first hand. There are graduates there who know everything you need to know, so have questions ready for them. After that, it's about who you are as a person – your attitude and potential.
There are days when it feels like your head's going to explode, but to thrive at Lidl you've got to have a mindset that's always open to learning something new. That's how you progress and do well. Naturally inquisitive, curious learners who ask a lot of questions.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve overcome at Lidl?
I had to run a whole store for two weeks, in a new region, with a team I didn't know, three months into my graduate placement – that was a huge challenge for me. But that's the Lidl way – to go beyond what you thought you were capable of and surprise yourself with what you can achieve. To be honest - every day's a challenge as every day's completely different.
What is the support like at Lidl?
There's a few different environments and because we're growing so fast as a company, there are constantly trainees coming through, so the teams know what a trainee needs in terms of having a team around them and the support to get you through. The Regional Training Consultants help, as well as Area Managers and Store Managers.
In store training, you’re with a team of 20 or 25 people – it’s really nice to have that around every day and they’re all really welcoming. Out of store you're involved with your RDC and other departments – you’re part of this welcome, open, honest work culture where everyone is willing to help.
What’s your training been like?
At Lidl, you're very much in control of your own learning. There are endless opportunities there for you – it's about what you push yourself to do and how much you choose to get out of it. The training's carefully structured, but being retail, there are always things happening that you might not expect and there’s a lot of change. For example the seasonal changes bring their own challenges so your mindset's got to be one that embraces change and is ready to roll with unexpected new experiences. There is a routine, but you need to adapt all the time too.
Is there anything you wish you'd known before you started?
Just to be yourself. It's a big step from Uni to the world of work. There's a lot to learn, quickly. Be aware of that, and then ask loads of questions. The training and the knowledge is there, it's about pushing yourself to learn more all the time, driving your own development forward.