1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
Working within the supply chain team my role was to assist the supply chain assistants by taking phone calls, entering product details into spreadsheets, shadowing the assistants in order to understand how a large supply chain operation works. I answered calls from customers, from distribution centres and from other internal departments. I had access to the supply chain system and attempted to answer queries using the system where I could.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
I improved my communication skills and became more confident in my own ability. It also gave me some useful exposure to a working environment, particularly in a large organisation like the Co-op. I became a more outgoing personas a result of the outgoing people I was working with. My interest in working in retail and more specifically supply chain has increased as a result of completing the work experience.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
I enjoyed the work experience greatly. I met some really inspirational people and made some good friends. I am still in touch with some if these people. The work was varied and exciting although it was very admin based which I expected for such a junior position within the company. I had to travel 16 miles every day to get to the office and I am unable to drive so I had to rely on public transport. This was a slight negative but no fault of the company.
4. How valued do you feel by Co-op?
I felt like the Co-op took an interest in my personal development by providing me with regular catch-ups with my line manager and assigning me a mentor outside of my reporting structure. As well as doing the role I felt like I was learning new skills and gaining valuable experience. They made me want to pursue a career in supply chain after the work experience had finished. I felt extremely valued.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
Extremely organised, the training plan was very structured and I was always given enough time to shadow and learn from other members of staff even during particularly busy periods in the office. The training programme was also extremely flexible and if I took a particular interest in something the Co-op were able to tailor the plan to fit my interest and development needs.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
I kept in regular contact with my training provider and felt supported throughout. I had monthly phone calls with the training provider and they asked me in detail to describe my experiences. Occasionally the catch-ups felt a little rushed due to time constraints from their side but I did feel like they took an interest and if I had felt unhappy or unsupported by the Co-op I felt like they would be willing to step in and assist.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
I felt like I received the most support from my employer, particularly with how detailed my training schedule was and the regular catch up switch my line manager where they took a genuine interest in how I was progressing. My mentor was available for a catch-up whenever I requested one and he was willing to do these either face to face or over the telephone whatever I preferred. The support I received certainly put me at ease and helped me through the experience.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
It was manageable, but I had the advantage of living with my parents at the time. I felt like if I was paying rent and bills that I might struggle to meet my costs with the salary I was on. But despite this I saw the work experience as a great opportunity and it was for a limited time so I felt the sacrifice was worth it for the end results. I paid for travel costs with the salary I was on and this was expensive.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
Yes there was a very active social side to the role as we were working in Manchester city centre and the team I worked with were very outgoing. We went on social events and meals after work once a week or so. I also made many friends and remain in contact with some of these for advice. There was also a weekly football game arranged by the department and I attended this when I could. This was great at building working relationships and building my confidence.
9. Would you recommend Co-op to a friend?
The Co-op are a large employer with lots of opportunities for development and career progression. They take a genuine interest in you as a person and employ like-minded people. I was very impressed by the work experience programme that I was on. The structure and detail to the programme was impressive. There is also a very active social side and lots of opportunities to build working relationships with the team members.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Co-op?
Be yourself, don't hesitate to apply and enjoy the experience. Do not be afraid to go with your own personal development plan and ideas for progression, they are more than willing to listen and tailor their programme to fit your interests and development needs. If you are an ambitious person looking for career progression or if you are someone who just wants to work for a good employer who takes interest in their employees then the Co-op is the place for you.
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