‘Take some time to consider the path you want to take’
My Career Path: Cian O’Connor is part of Aldi’s Graduate Area Manager Programme
Cian O’Connor: ‘Don’t rush into a role just for the sake of it, or don’t be pressurised to have a job lined up straight away once you finish your studies.’
What did you study and when did you graduate?
I completed a Master’s degree in Management and Marketing in the University College Cork where I graduated in February 2020. I also undertook the Aldi Industrial Placement programme in 2019 prior to joining the company’s Graduate Area Manager Programme.
What did you find most challenging about the working world?
The most challenging aspect of the transition from education to the working world was the ability to switch off from work and unwind. In the working world where there is more responsibility, it’s not always easy to switch off. The Graduate Area Manager training programme is a commitment and during my training I was so focused on learning and improving myself, I found it challenging to take down-time outside of work sometimes.
After some helpful conversations with my colleagues and mentors, I got some great advice and found new ways of switching off which has been great. The generous holiday entitlement with the role gives you the opportunity enjoy the down time, and highlights that working with Aldi is really more than just a job.
Do you have any mentors? If so what is their value to you?
In my personal life my mentors are my parents. They always offer me sound advice and put things into perspective. Throughout my Master’s degree when the workload was intense, they reminded me of the importance of having a balance and also taking time away from study. They also helped me in terms of my career choice and supporting decisions on my career path.
I got a fantastic mentor when I joined the Aldi Graduate Area Manager Programme who supported me throughout my whole training programme. Their mentorship played a vital role in helping me to find my feet in the role and ensuring that I received all the training and advice necessary to progress.
The value of mentors in my life has been instrumental to my development.
What is the most valuable thing you have learned since you joined the workforce?
The most valuable thing I have learned since joining Aldi as a graduate is the importance of taking responsibility and ownership of my decisions and actions. The ability to critically assess your decisions can allow you to progress and grow for the future.
How has Covid-19 affected you/your working life?
Covid-19 has presented many economic and social challenges. Of course, the environments that we both live and work in look very different now I finished my training in June of this year and have since taken my responsibility for my own operational area.
I am sure that everyone who works in the retail sector will agree that the past few months have been very busy, but at the same time very rewarding. The unprecedented demand experienced across the grocery sector and its importance as a frontline service meant that everyone faced a huge challenge. However, as a graduate I found the situation gave me so many unique learning opportunities which will be very valuable throughout my career. I’ve had so much support from my colleagues too, which makes those tough days a little easier.
One piece of advice for new graduates?
Don’t rush into a role just for the sake of it, or don’t be pressurised to have a job lined up straight away once you finish your studies. Take some time to consider the path you want to take to reach your goals and explore the different avenues that can be taken to reach this goal.