My Aldi graduate experience - Charlotte Counihan
In the first of a two-part series, we hear from graduates who have successfully completed the Aldi Graduate Area Manager Programme. We hear about the challenges of the role, what they have learned and what advice they would have for students or graduates considering a similar career path.
‘The customer experience has to be great, every time’
Charlotte Counihan tells us about why the Aldi Graduate Programme was the right choice for her.
When did you join the Aldi Area Manager Programme and what’s your degree background?
I joined Aldi in January 2020 after completing my degree in Geography and Business at Maynooth University.
What gave Aldi the advantage for you, over other graduate programmes?
There was a few elements that made me apply for Aldi over other graduate programmes. The structure of the training programme was a big part of it for me. I was able to see where I could go with Aldi at the end of year one and beyond. Then the responsibility the programme offered from the start, along with the investment Aldi put into training their employees were also huge attractions for me.
How has your role adapted during the Covid-19 pandemic?
We are lucky to have been one of the few industries to keep working ‘as normal’ through the pandemic so the only major changes have been creating a safer in-store experience for customers and colleagues by keeping customer numbers down at any one time in the store and additional cleaning duties and hygiene protocols. As I was in different stages of my training through the pandemic, I didn’t see any huge change in the role; it was all busy and very new to me.
What skills do you feel you have developed over the last year?
I think the three skills I have seen a huge improvement in are my leadership, organisation and time management skills.
What was the most challenging aspect of the role during the training programme?
During the training programme, what I found most difficult was ensuring I made the time for life outside of work. While there wasn’t much going on as result of the pandemic, I needed to find a way to have something going on outside of work to balance being very busy in work. It was an easy year to let work take over your life, so ensuring that line was there was a challenge.
Has your perception of the retail industry changed since you joined Aldi?
I worked in retail at the weekends before I started with Aldi but the biggest thing I have noticed is how hard everyone in retail works. From the physical work on the shop floor, to the interactions with customers on the tills, you have to be constantly pushing yourself to keep customers happy and get your job done efficiently. Every interaction with every customer has to be perfect. While it might be the 100th customer interaction that day, it is one of the only interactions that customer gets with us so there has to be great customer service every time, with no exceptions. I definitely overlooked how tough this can be before joining Aldi.