‘It is natural to feel overwhelmed, but keep an open mind’
My Career Path: Lee Jordan, Graduate Management Trainee Sales at Lidl
Lee Jordan: “Networking is key! The level of knowledge surrounding you on a daily basis is mind-blowing but you can’t utilise this without knowing who’s who.” Photograph: Conor McCabe Photography
What/where did you study, and when did you graduate?
Starting college in 2014, I studied business studies in Dublin City University. In my final year, I specialised in management, graduating in 2018.
What attracted you to your current role/ company/ path?
During my college years, my part-time jobs were mainly within the retail sector. Each job was fast-paced and customer-facing, aspects which I quickly came to realise I wanted to pursue when looking for my first job after college. In my final year, I decided to go to the RDS gradireland fair to find out information from companies about the different jobs and grad programmes on offer. Lidl was one of the first stands that caught my eye. I began speaking to one of the graduates at the stand who was currently on the Graduate Management Development Programme in the sales department.
Following my conversation with the Lidl graduate, it was clear that the Lidl Graduate Management Development Programme was the programme for me. They explained how Lidl would provide real experience, and I would learn exactly how the business works. Experiencing it with a ‘hands on’ approach, I would be leading, delivering and rolling out real-world projects, adding value to the business, a challenge that really appealed to me so I decided to apply.
Looking back now, this was a pivotal moment in marking the beginning of my career after graduating from college. The experience I have gained has been one of a kind, from store and warehouse operations to area management and project management, the list goes on!
What did you find most challenging about the working world, or the transition from education to the working world?
I was quite fortunate as I completed a year-long internship before going into final year so I had an idea of what was ahead of me. However, like all jobs, transitioning into a new working environment is always a bit challenging and Lidl was no different. The programme is designed in such a way that gives graduates responsibility from the get-go. Working at a fast pace with highly experienced teams really gave me a push to develop both personally and professionally. Although at times it can be challenging, I know I always have the support of my director-mentor and my coach to help guide me in the right direction.
Do you have any mentors? If so, what is their value to you?
One of the best things about the Lidl Graduate Programme is that you are assigned a director as a mentor on day one. They are extremely helpful and are available on a daily basis, making time to grab a coffee and talk through both your personal and professional development while on the programme. In most cases, your mentor will be from a different department within the business, meaning they can give you a different perspective and useful advice on challenges that you’re facing and projects that you’re working on.
What is the most valuable thing you have learned since you joined the workforce?
Networking is key! The level of knowledge surrounding you on a daily basis is mind-blowing but you can’t utilise this without knowing who’s who. Building a professional network will allow you to overcome challenges and solve any problems you come up against.
One piece of advice for new graduates?
The first few weeks in a new role can feel like information overload. My advice is that no matter what your new role may be, it is natural to feel overwhelmed, but keep an open mind. Take a few deep breaths, be open to learning as much as possible, meet as many new people as possible and try your best.