Case study

Retail management placement — Jake Kennedy

Jake studied international business management at Oxford Brookes University, during his course he completed a work placement at Aldi. He now works as an area manager

Why did you decide on a career in retail?

I decided on a career in retail as I have always been interested in people management and found that this was where my strengths lie. Retail is the perfect environment for me to work with fantastic colleagues daily and interact with customers. Another factor was that retail is a fast-paced environment, meaning I am always on my feet and never have two days that are the same. This is great for me as I love to keep busy and have variety in my role.

Why did you choose Aldi?

During a careers class in college, I saw an advert for the area manager role at Aldi, so it was a position I always had in the back of my mind.

At university I had the opportunity to undertake a work placement, so I thought working for Aldi on a retail management placement would be a great introduction and a chance for me to experience the role and business. Fortunately, my application was successful, and I joined in 2019 as a retail management placement student. I was then offered the chance to come back as an area manager once I graduated.

How did you apply for your year in industry?

The first stage of my application was an online form where I entered my details, qualifications, and any relevant experience to the job. I was then invited to complete a video interview where I answered a series of questions about both Aldi, the role and myself. I then attended a group assessment centre and finally the final interview where I met the managing director of the region for a one-on-one interview in the regional office of my chosen region.

What did your placement involve?

My placement was broken into three areas where I was able to experience different sections of the business. During store time you are part of the store team, which includes a variety of early starts and late finishes. This is great as you get to see the store operating at various times throughout the day. This is invaluable as it's critical to have first-hand experience on how a store runs, how to manage it and what challenges our teams face on the front line.

I also spent time in trading, where I operated as part of the trading team managing our regional stock levels. I learned a range of skills that are useful in an office environment and challenged me in unexpected ways.

The final area I spent time in was getting to shadow my mentor, an area manager. This was the job role I was interested in and ultimately preparing for, so it was a great insight into what a future career at Aldi could look like. The days varied as you go across different stores for meetings, audits and interviews.

Was your placement a paid position?

Aldi's placement programmes are all paid positions, with a current salary of £26,000 per annum.

Describe your placement in 5 words.

  • dynamic
  • fun
  • fast-paced
  • exciting
  • developmental.

What part of your placement did you enjoy the most?

As a placement student I was exposed to a range of business operations outside of store operations, including project work and spending the Christmas period in the trading department. It was great to go into the role of an area manager having experienced these areas of the business in my placement, so I feel lucky to have had that exposure and build strong cross-departmental relationships.

What were the challenges?

For me the biggest challenge was quickly adapting to the scale of the operation. I had never worked outside of an office before so seeing how quickly issues need to be resolved in store was quite eye-opening. It is also difficult joining any business, however everyone at Aldi made me feel very welcome so I settled in fast and felt like I was making an impact from day one.

What three qualities are important in for a career in retail?

The three qualities I would deem as important are a willingness to adapt, as you never know what is coming next. Being driven, having an inner desire to achieve and perform pushes both yourself to be the best you can and your teams. Finally, patience and understanding, whether dealing with customers or your teams, relating to them and taking time to understand will go a long way.

What are your career ambitions?

Personally, I would like to build a life-long career with Aldi. I love operations so that is an area I would be happy to progress in if I have the chance. As an area manager there are also opportunities to work in our head office at Atherstone, so other departments of the business such as buying or property also seem tempting to explore one day.

What advice can you give to others on successfully completing a placement?

My advice is to work hard every day, as you never know who you might be working for in the future or who your own teams may consist of. Taking the time to build relationships during my placement continues to pay dividends today, as I have strong bonds across many departments of our business who I often rely on for advice and guidance.

Find out more

How would you rate this page?

On a scale where 1 is dislike and 5 is like

success feedback

Thank you for rating the page