I first heard about the graduate scheme from a friend who was working for The Co-operative Travel. After doing a bit of digging, I found out more about the variety of opportunities and the ethics and values of the business and decided to apply. Having come from an academic background, I wasn’t sure of exactly which area of business I would be best suited to, so the business management scheme seemed like an ideal fit for me. From my first interview, I felt like I had found an employer that was right for me, and am pleased to say that I still feel the same ten months later!
Since starting the scheme, I have had the opportunity to work in a variety of different businesses and business areas, which has been great for my development. I first completed a short induction project with the other graduates, and ended up presenting our findings to 50 senior managers; this was a little daunting, but gave me a real sense of achievement, and it was great for building my confidence. I then worked with four other graduates on a project in Food Operations, looking at various aspects of customer service in our stores. We went up and down the country, visiting stores, talking to customers and researching our competitors. At the end of the four weeks we were given the opportunity to present to the Food Executive, which was again a bit scary, but our recommendations were well received and some of them have already been implemented.
My first four month project was in Food Commercial, focusing on raising the profile of Fairtrade with internal colleagues and delivering a variety of elements for Fairtrade Fortnight 2011. The team made me very welcome, and I enjoyed the varied nature of the project. Although I was inexperienced, I was treated like a valued member of the team.
I am now working in Funeralcare in the Marketing department, where I have been managing a tender process and developing a new product range and Point of Sale. I have developed a lot of technical skills from this project, including: managing a project plan, analysing data, and writing reports and proposals. I have also delivered presentations and worked through a creative development process, which I have found really interesting.
In addition to my projects, I have had the opportunity to get involved in a lot of activities. I am the Secretary of the Community Youth Fund, the charity which each new intake of graduates supports and fundraises for. Our fundraising events are great fun, and have helped me to meet new people across the business. I also volunteer as a job coach for a local charity, which I have found really rewarding.
I enjoy the fast-paced and varied nature of project work, and am constantly learning new things and meeting new people. The graduate scheme also tends to be very sociable, which has been invaluable to me, and helped me to settle into a new city and job. There is also a ready-built network of previous graduates who are spread throughout the organisation, which is a great source of support, and a fantastic way of finding information and meeting people.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my first ten months with the Group, and can’t wait to get stuck into my next project!