Skip to main content
Home » Graduate Careers » A holistic graduate programme that can fast-track you to career success

John Maher

Sales Operations Manager, Lidl

Eva Kelly

Head of HR Services, Lidl

Former participants of an award-winning graduate programme explain everything applicants need to know and how it can guide them to success.

Lidl’s graduate programme is one of the most coveted in Ireland. With only 10 places allocated per year, it receives thousands of applicants. With its competitive pay, award-winning training and skills developed by one of Europe’s fastest-growing retailers, what’s not to like?

What the graduate programme involves

“The programme itself is 18 months, and our graduates start with us each September,” explains James Carron, talent management specialist, who oversees the programme. Each graduate is taken into a specific department of the business, anything from sales and operations to marketing, human resources, procurement, logistics or construction.

“They then spend two weeks in their specific department, getting to know their team and getting an overview of the business area they will eventually work in before they all head off to do 12 weeks of intensive store training. It’s a very hands-on programme, which means graduates will be working on live operational projects from the very beginning,” he adds.

Advantages of working for a global retailer

John Maher, sales operations manager, charts his story. “I always wanted to work in retail. My first job as a teen was working in a local convenience store. I like being customer-facing and working with people. I went to a lot of grad fairs when I was doing my master’s and, knowing that retail was the industry I wanted to work in, Lidl really interested me.”

He explains how one of the best parts of the job is access to mentoring directly from one of the company directors. “I met my mentor — a regional managing director — once a month and got incredible guidance. I was due to finish the programme in March 2020 but by the previous December, they had already offered me a job as an area manager, so I started my area management training.

“Initially, I had five stores in counties Carlow and Kilkenny and recently moved to Dublin West. The way I see it, it’s the next stage in my development. I want to progress. Working for a global retailer, the sky’s the limit as there are many international opportunities available to you. It’s a brilliant culture.”

As a graduate, you get to learn
the business from the ground up.

Development opportunities across the business

Eva Kelly, acting head of human resources services, explains her experience. She learned about the development opportunities at Lidl after spotting them at a careers fair. “They told me, ‘You get responsibility, are supported throughout’ — that I’d be challenged and would learn and develop. I just thought: that’s what I want. So I applied and was accepted. I spent six months in stores and warehouses. As a graduate, you get to learn the business from the ground up. It’s a unique way of approaching a programme, and it also allows you to build relationships all over the business.”

Building on flexibility and diverse skills

The company has nearly 7,000 staff on the island of Ireland, and Kelly’s team is the point of contact for all of them in relation to HR services. “What I really liked from the start was the culture. It’s fast-paced but values-driven, and that’s important to me. As a graduate, you have theoretical knowledge; but in the grad programme, you get training that builds all sorts of skills — from presentation to behavioural development.

“I’ve been exceptionally fortunate in the number of opportunities I’ve had here. I’ve held various roles, working with regional teams and in head office.” Kelly explains how she has grown throughout her career as the graduate programme evolved. With dynamic experiences, graduates get the chance to foster business skills without being limited in their careers.

Next article