Name – Zara Davis
Company – Lidl NI
Role – Bursary Student – Business Development and Management
Degree – Business Management – Ulster University
Talk us through your typical work day?
As part of my Ulster University placement, I’m currently working in Lidl Northern Ireland at the regional distribution centre at Nutts Corner. Every day I am learning something new about what it is like to work in the challenging and exciting retail industry. My placement has given me the opportunity to dip into many areas of the business, which is helping to improve my skills and enhance my practical experience.
So far, I have spent three months in-store completing Level 2 deputy store manager/supervisor training. My challenge was to step up from the role of customer assistant and take on a more supervisory role, which involves knowing store priorities, conducting freshness checks, delegating, analysing key performance indicators and productivity, managing the safe, lodgments and cash ups, and opening and closing the store as a key holder.
During my time in the Sales Department I was given an overview by the Operations Support Manager, Sales Secretaries and Regional Organisation Support Manager and quickly learned how important the sales process is when it comes to effectively communicating with stores and customers. My project consisted of travelling around various regions within Northern Ireland, networking with employees, store managers and area managers. I was given the opportunity to conduct various audits on each store including availability audits, follow up focus audits and permanent price changes.
I’ve also been given the opportunity to attended careers fairs, employability events and various types of extensive training days to support my career progression and help me get the most out of my year-long Ulster University placement.
What has surprised you the most?
The responsibility, experiences and opportunities that have been made available to me. Lidl isn’t afraid to invest in you and transfer responsibility. The company has provided me with extensive training and development opportunities, for which I am truly grateful. Whilst working in store I have learned that teamwork is key to success in achieving goals, everyone working together ensures that deadlines are achieved and we have happy customers and employees in our stores.
What has been your biggest challenge and achievement?
My biggest challenge has been getting used to the long 40-hour week and also stepping out of my comfort zone on various occasions to improve my personal development.
My biggest achievement has been stepping up in-store to complete my Level 2 training, there was a lot to cover but all the hard work has paid off and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I feel as though I have added value to the business in such a short period of time.
What skills and qualities have you developed through your role?
Being given extra responsibility in my roles within Lidl has drastically added value and knowledge to my studies at Ulster University.
One of the training days I attended, Insights, has taught me how to communicate with other personalities who I may clash with or differ with. I’ve found this hugely beneficial to the development of my emotional intelligence.
My IT skills are also improving everyday as I have to adapt to the varied systems and software used by the different internal departments.
What first attracted you to the role?
The Ulster University placement year offers huge advantages for future career opportunities, not only the advantage of becoming part of an extensively growing global business, but also the broad spectrum of the business that I would become exposed to. This especially attracted me to the placement as being a business management student, I was unsure of which direction I wanted to take my career. There was also the financial advantage of having my tuition fees fully expensed and the fact I could avail of part time work whilst studying at university.
How do you think this will help your future career?
My confidence on a professional level has definitely improved due to my increased knowledge in the retail industry.
I have had a unique insight into management career prospects from an international company and I’ve been given the opportunity to find out what to expect and the challenges I may face if I pursue a career in this field.
Top Tips for applying for a placement role.
My top tip would be to attend careers fairs because top employers attend careers fairs and they want you to become part of their company. Make the most of these events and network with employers, get your name out there, ask questions and pick up tips whilst your there for the application process, know what employers are looking for.