My Aldi internship and graduate experience - Ify Nzewi

19 Sept 2023, 13:51

Ify Nzewi is a graduate from University College Cork (UCC) who completed a Retail Management internship with ALDI and has recently completed the Graduate Area Manager programme with ALDI. He spoke to gradireland about his experience with the internship and the transition to the ALDI Graduate Area Manager programme. He also gave some valuable advice to students interested in the ALDI Retail Management internship.

Ify Nzewi Aldi graduate

What drew you to doing an internship at ALDI?

When looking for an internship, I wanted something that offered responsibility and exposure to business. I had previously completed two summer internships in large companies and saw an opportunity to challenge myself in ALDI’s Retail Management programme.

The most enticing part of the placement was the mentorship and responsibility prospects that ALDI offered. There was a clear training plan, which provided a good understanding of my role over the six-month period. Overall, the ALDI Retail Management internship presented itself as a perfect fit for me.

What was the recruitment process like?

The recruitment process was seamless, as ALDI has developed a strong relationship with University College Cork. All college students studying business disciplines were encouraged to submit their CVs to companies partnered with UCC. I chose to apply to ALDI based on how rewarding and opportunistic the role appeared. Then, I waited patiently and fortunately was contacted for an interview.

The interview was conducted by a Store Operations Director and lasted approximately 45 minutes. During the interview, I talked about my background, hobbies, and the various subjects I was passionate about. I was then selected as one of the interns from the group of students who applied for this role.

What was a typical day like for you on the ALDI Retail Management internship programme?

A day in ALDI for me looked slightly different than that of the standard Retail Management Intern, as my time centred around working with the National Project team. The project focused on instilling consistency and simplicity in all stores across the UK and Ireland.

No two days on the project were the same, but generally, it involved working closely with the Lead Project Area Manager. Each morning, we usually had an update call with the project team to co-ordinate and delegate daily tasks. Once a week, we would have a meeting to inform the relevant business leaders about the current project status. During these meetings, I recorded and disseminated the relevant agendas and minutes. Otherwise, my days consisted mostly of analysing store operations data, designing digital presentations, and stress-testing the capabilities of new internal software.

Honestly, it was a challenging internship, but I learned how essential the store operations function is to the wider business.

What are the main skills that you’ve gained from the internship?

I gained many different professional and interpersonal skills during the programme. Professionally, I developed technical competencies with tools such as PowerPoint and Excel. Hardly a day went by when I wasn’t analysing some form of data or designing some type of digital presentation. On a personal level, I gained good business acumen by conversing and building relationships with experienced business leaders.

Lastly, the additional skills I gained during the internship, such as communication, planning, and time management, were extremely beneficial for my final-year preparations at university.

What did you enjoy most about the internship?

During my time as a Retail Management intern, I got to meet and work with some incredible people. I was also given numerous tasks and trials to oversee during the internship. The increased responsibility and trust from my manager and the rest of the team made everything so much more exciting and rewarding, giving me a real sense of gratification. The business exposure combined with ALDI’s fast-paced environment was something I enjoyed and had not experienced before!

What advice would you have for students interested in the ALDI Retail Management internship?

There are no tricks or secrets to securing a position in ALDI’s internship programme. I believe ALDI looks for people who are proactive and self-motivated. They also look for people who are driven, willing to learn and team players who are excited to join something amazing.

Although that sounds like a lot, in my opinion, university clubs, societies and academic group projects are great ways to acquire and develop these qualities. So, to keep it simple, I think getting involved in university life is key.

Congratulations on completing the ALDI Graduate Area Manager programme. What was the transition from intern to Graduate Area Manager like?

Thank you very much! I’ve been incredibly lucky and feel privileged to have been given the opportunity to take on the Area Manager role straight after university.

Of course, the transition was challenging, but the graduate training year made the process exciting and worthwhile. I spent six months in store, getting to know the products and learning about ALDI’s unique approach to management. Then, I devoted another three months to learning the ins and outs of the Area Manager role before finally being ready to take responsibility for a group of stores. The graduate role shapes you into a more confident and competent individual, and that growth is really beneficial for any young professional.

Now as an Area Manager, there is a lot more information to balance, and you can get overwhelmed quite quickly if you don’t learn how to prioritise tasks. You are entrusted with a lot of autonomy and have to drive your own success. You find yourself with targets to meet and processes to follow, all while working hard under pressure to meet other deadlines. Let’s just say taking the summer off to travel and relax was a brilliant decision.

And what element of the programme do you enjoy the most?

In a nutshell, the people! There is a real community spirit at ALDI. It is a lovely feeling when so many people are invested in your success and the success of the company. During your store training, you build incredible relationships with exceptionally talented teams by working together through the early starts and late finishes in stores. Then, throughout your management training, you spend nearly every day with your mentors and other colleagues, building strong relationships and creating good support networks. With the right attitude, ALDI can be a very fulfilling place to work.

Do you have any passions outside of work?

Definitely! I am a massive football fan. I grew up loving the sport and have played club football since the age of eight. Today, I play junior football in Kilkenny, and this level provides a perfect balance for work and leisure.

Previously, football consumed a much larger part of my life. I played in major youth tournaments before committing to four years of League of Ireland football. After this, I played another four seasons of senior college football, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I am very proud of these years, having won great individual and team accolades, such as Player of the Season, a University Sports Soccer Scholarship, and the Collingwood Cup.

Other pastimes I have include reading, listening to podcasts, and playing chess.

Do you feel like they have helped you develop skills that are useful in your job?

Absolutely! Obtaining soft skills is one of the main benefits of playing competitive team sports, and I think some of those skills were specifically transferrable to the Area Manager role.

These qualities were discipline, leadership, patience, and self-reflection. As an Area Manager, you are inspired to become a leader for multiple stores, and by extension, your store colleagues. You are motivated to reflect on all your decisions both positive and negative, and encouraged to be disciplined in thought and action, as an executive manager. And finally, you are reminded to be patient in outcome - a quality many of us footballers would be familiar with when it’s still 0-0 at half-time.

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