Food, Drink & Catering is an exciting sector which is always evolving. It offers varied career paths open to most graduates, including roles in Retail Management, Buying and Merchandising, Advertising, Marketing and Promotions, Market Research, Transportation and Logistics, and more.
Most of the positions available in this sector do not require a specific degree and can build on a graduate's previous experience. This includes part-time work undertaken at university such as working in a retail shop, working behind a bar or in a restaurant, or other customer service roles. Many of the schemes and programmes in Food, Drink & Catering offer fantastic career progression for candidates ready to apply themselves.
How to Get a Job in Food, Drink & Catering
There are many roles available in this sector, and while most rely on the same basic skill set, there are some specific qualities which will set a candidate apart.
Retail and Retail Management
Retail and Retail Management is a good area for graduates to start in the Food, Drink & Catering sector, as university leavers are likely to have the required skills already. Candidates applying for work in Retail and Retail Management should show evidence of strong customer service skills, good communication and an understanding of how to manage stock. Candidates should be familiar both with dealing with customers and with keeping products fresh and in the best condition for sale.
Candidates should also display specialist knowledge of the product they are selling. For example, a graduate joining Majestic Wine's Graduate Scheme will be expected to undergo training and testing to ensure sufficient knowledge to discuss the product with consumers.
Buying and Merchandising
Buying and Merchandising is an important part of the Food, Drink & Catering sector. Buyers and Merchandisers are responsible for getting the best product at the right price, and making sure it arrives when it needs to.
Graduates must have excellent communication skills, both written and oral, in order to work closely with manufacturers and suppliers. Candidates should also show specialised knowledge of the products which they will be buying and selling. Like fashion, food has seasonal trends and candidates for this kind of job need to know what to buy, and when to buy it.
Transportation and Logistics
Transportation and Logistics is vital to the Food, Drink and Catering sector. Many of the bigger companies offer schemes and training programmes to prepare graduates for a career in this area.
The main requirement for candidates in this field is that they are organised and decisive. Workers in Transportation and Logistics must manage the delivery of different products across the nation in conjunction with buyers and merchandisers, supply chain managers, and logistic planners. Candidates must have the foresight to look ahead and address possible problems before they arise, and when they do encounter setbacks, candidates must be able to offer quick and effective solutions. Graduates interested in this area must be good at time management and multi-tasking.
Advertising, Marketing and Market Research
The Food, Drink & Catering market is competitive and cut-throat. Companies are reliant on Advertising, Marketing and Market Research to give them an edge.
Graduates wanting to go into this area to know what they are doing. Many positions require a relevant degree, and competition is fierce. Candidates should provide a portfolio which highlights their talent, style and commitment to the career-and they should make sure it contains examples relevant to the Food, Drink & Catering business.
Food & drink Case Studies
We are looking for individuals who thrive on the challenge of applying an 'own business' mentality to the stores in their area.
The Employer - James Hutcheson (Managing Director of the Aldi Academy - Aldi)
Name: James Hutcheson
Job Title: Managing Director of the Aldi Academy - Aldi
University: University of Bath
Course: Business Administration
What competencies do you like to see in candidates?
Academic qualifications are important, and we ask that candidates have a minimum 2:1 degree at undergraduate level as well as strong English and Maths skills, as these are critical in the Area Manager role. However, personal qualities such as remaining calm under pressure, and being able to challenge and motivate high performing teams are highly sought after.
Can you talk us through the application process?
All candidates are asked to complete an online application form, which takes around an hour. Successful candidates are then asked to attend a group interview with one of Aldi's seven regional Managing Directors, and if they progress further, a one-on-one interview will be held between the candidate and MD. The process also involved a series of verbal, numerical and psychometric tests.
What is the most common mistake you see in an application, which leads to candidates being rejected?
During our group assessment interviews, we ask candidates whether they have visited their local Aldi store to become familiar with the environment and our products. Some candidates who progress to the final interview stage may not have done sufficient research and this becomes quite apparent during the interview.
What is the main piece of advice you would give a graduate entering the sector?
I always ask graduates whether they're suitable and ready to work in a fast-moving industry such as Retail, and whether they would be comfortable with leading experienced store teams in less than a year with the company. We are looking for individuals who thrive on the challenge of applying an 'own business' mentality to the stores in their area.
What's the main challenge graduates face when they start?
Graduates start by working on the shop floor at Aldi so they understand how our stores operate, and what the responsibilities of the staff are on a daily basis. The work can be quite demanding physically and mentally so graduates have to hit the ground running.
Once they have mastered this, graduates will be asked to look after their own store, so they need to be able to handle this level of responsibility quite early on.
Where do you see company in two years time?
Aldi has continued to grow at a significant pace this year and we expect our market share to continually increase as we open more stores across the UK and as more consumers switch to Aldi for their weekly shop.
If you weren't in Graduate Recruitment, what would you be?
I previously worked in management consultancy before joining Aldi, and although I could have continued with that career path, I couldn't envisage myself working for any other company.
The Employee - Isobel Giles (Area Manager, Greater Manchester - Aldi)
Name: Isobel Giles
Job Title: Area Manager - Aldi
University: Durham University
Course: Celluar Biology
Graduation Year: 2012
How did you find your graduate job in Food, Drink and Catering sector?
I was searching for graduate schemes online when I came across Aldi, and after a friend attended a group interview, they recommended the job to me. Once I had met with one of Aldi's regional Managing Directors, I was 100% set on the role and I was fortunate enough to be offered the job.
Why do you think you were successful at Aldi?
I have a background of leading sports teams, which is beneficial when you go to work for Aldi, as you will be expected to manage large store teams within your first year. I also have a drive to succeed, and I'm comfortable speaking with and motivating a wide range of people.
What do you actually do?
I am responsible for the smooth running and performance of three stores, including the management and development of people, recruitment of new store staff and maintaining shop floor standards. Recruitment is a large part of my role as our stores are becoming much busier, and I also have to work closely with my Store Managers on the priorities for each week.
Each of Aldi's stores is a multi-million pound business, so I have to ensure that my store teams are working as efficiently as possible to make them a success.
What skills do you need?
You must show positivity and a high level of commitment at all times, attention to detail, and an ability to level and be honest with others in terms of their performance and day-to-day tasks.
What is the best thing about your job?
Every day is different so there's always going to be something that challenges you. Everyone who works for Aldi is also committed to achieving agreed objectives, but you can also make a real impact and change things as you see fit, so it's great to have that autonomy.
And what is the worst thing about your job?
There's always going to be challenges that you can't overcome straight away, so these longer term goals take patience and persistence.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
I hope to still be working for Aldi having developed and honed my management skills. I still have a lot to learn but I hope to progress to directorship within the business.
What advice would you give to graduates applying to Aldi?
Research the job role, and go into the group interview with plenty of passion. You should only apply to Aldi if you want to work in a fast-paced role that's challenging and rewarding. Leadership and extra-curricular roles outside of work are also highly valued by Aldi, so you should look to acquire these before you apply.
If you want to find out more about graduate jobs with Aldi, please take a look at their Minisite.