I joined Sainsbury’s three years after I left university, as I really wanted to gain some work experience and go travelling. I’m so glad that I got to go and explore the world before getting stuck into my career, but by the time my first day came round I was definitely ready for a challenge.
That came in the form of Sainsbury’s Whitechapel – a fast-paced, exciting supermarket in London. The best thing about this placement was meeting the amazing team of colleagues – a diverse, welcoming bunch with a fantastic team spirit. My highlights included organising the Whitechapel ‘Oscars’ – a red carpet event we held in store to celebrate our colleagues, and taking charge of the seasonal aisles at Christmas – I have NEVER seen so much chocolate. I learnt a lot about retail in those four months, and becoming part of the Whitechapel family really helped me to understand what it’s like to work for Sainsbury’s on the shop floor.
After a VERY busy Christmas, it was time to swap the shop floor for the 3rd floor – the marketing department of Sainsbury’s Head Office. For my marketing placement I joined the Own Brand team, where we aim to drive growth and build loyalty across Sainsbury’s brands. I was immediately thrown into the deep end, building an Easter campaign for our billion-pound premium brand – Taste the Difference.
My next challenge was a project on our Own Brand kids’ food, where I was regularly pushed out of my comfort zone – briefing creative agencies on packaging designs, presenting to directors and making big strategic recommendations on how we could improve children's nutrition.
Most recently, I managed the Sainsbury’s Freefrom exhibition at the London Allergy and Freefrom Show – an event with an attendance of 30,000 visitors. If you’ve ever worked in event management you’ll understand that this was a stressful time! All of these tasks seemed daunting at first, but with some fantastic support from my manager and team I have developed quickly and gained a strong grounding in marketing. It’s a great department to be in, where you regularly hear things like “Is it the right orange? Is has to be the Sainsbury’s orange” and “Who can I find to talk to about cheese around here?!”
In addition to the day job, it’s the extra graduate activities that make the scheme so brilliant. Some of the other blog posts have mentioned Sport Relief – did you know that as a group of 20 grads we raised over £8,000? We have also had the chance to be a ‘fly on the wall’ at our Commercial Director’s team meetings, and helped to open a brand new superstore: Sainsbury’s Tottenham.
Probably the best quality of the scheme, though, is its variety. In just a few weeks I’ll be leaving marketing and starting my next placement in buying. It’s pretty fast-moving – just as you feel settled you’re thrown into something new, but I’m excited to see what’s around the corner.
If you have any questions about the Sainsbury’s 2020 Leaders Graduate Scheme then do let me know in the comments below and I will answer as best I can.